WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: July
July 1st, 1940: German troops complete the occupation of the ChannelIslands, the only British territory ever captured by Germany duringWWII. The French government of Marshal Petain moves from Bordeaux toVichy. Marshal Balbo is replaced by Marshal Graziani as C-in-C ofItalian forces in Libya. In the first 6 months of the year, GermanU-boats have sunk 900,000 tons of Allied shipping.
July 1st, 1941: In the East, armored forces of Panzergruppe 4 (Hoepner)of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Leeb) cross the Dvina and capture Riga, whileunits of Panzergruppe 2 (Guderian) of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock)reach the Beresina near Borisov near Minsk.
July 1st, 1942: Infantry and combat engineers trof 11.Armee (vonManstein) complete the capture of the fortress of Sevastopol in theCrimea. In Egypt, armored units of the Afrikakorps approach thedefensive lines of the British Eighth Army at El Alamein on the road toAlexandria.
July 1st, 1944: Since D-Day, the Allies have landed 920,000 tropps,177,000 vehicles and 600,000 tons of supplies and equipment. In 24 daysof fighting, they have lost 62,000 men killed, wounded and missing. Inthe East, troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front (Chernyakovsky) recaptureBorisov. Beginning of the Bretton Woods (N.H.) Conference convened todeal with postwar financial and economic problems; establishment of theInternational Monetary Fund for Reconstruction and Development.
July 2nd, 1940: The British liner Arandora Star, carrying 1,500 Germanand Italian prisoners of war to Canada, is sunk by U-47 (Kptlt. Prien)off the west coast of Ireland, with many casualties.
July 2nd, 1941: On the extreme southern front in the East, troops of theGerman 11th (von Schobert) and the Rumanian 3rd (Dumitrescu) and 4thRumanian (Ciuparea) Armies begin an offensive from Moldavia towardVinnitsa and the Black Sea port of Odessa. The RAF carries out nightraids on Bremen and Cologne. China breaks off diplomatic relations withGermany and Italy.
July 2nd, 1943: The US Fifteenth Air Force, based in Libya, raids threeairfields in southern Italy.
July 2nd, 1944: In Italy, German troops evacuate Siena. Field Marshalvon Rundstedt resigns as C-in-C of German forces in the West and isreplaced by FM von Kluge.
July 3rd, 1940: Heavy units of the British Navy, codenamed Force H(Somerville), launch an attack (Operation Catapult) on the French fleetstationed at Mers-el-Kebir near Oran in Algeria, sinking the battleshipBretagne and heavily damaging the battleship Provence and thebattlecruiser Dunkerque. 1,300 French sailors are killed and hundredswounded. Reaction in both occupied and Vichy France is one of shock andoutrage at this totally unexpected and ruthless action by their formerally. Some 59 other French warships that had sought refuge at Plymouthand Portsmouth are seized by the Royal Navy, but only after overcomingarmed French resistance in some cases.
July 3rd, 1941: For the first time since the beginning of the Germanattack on the Soviet Union, Stalin speaks to the Russian people over theradio. Demanding utmost resistance ‘in our patriotic war against GermanFascism’, he calls for a policy of scorched earth if the Red Army isforced to yield ground and the formation of ‘people’s partisan’ groupsbehind enemy lines, as well as the summary execution of all cowards andshirkers.
July 3rd, 1942: In Egypt, due to exhaustion and lack of supplies,especially fuel for the armored divisions, German and Italian forces ofthe Afrikakorps suspend all offensive operations before El Alamein andbegin constructing defensive positions.
July 3rd, 1943: In the East, the opening of Unternehmen Zitadelle(Operation Citadel), the massive German counter-offensive to encircleand destroy the Soviet forces in the Orel-Belgorod salient near Kursk.is delayed by one day because of heavy Soviet air attacks against theGerman deployment areas. The RAF carries out a heavy night raid onCologne, causing considerable damage and killing hundreds of civilians.
July 3rd, 1944: In the East, 28 divisions of Heeresgruppe Mitte (Model)are encircled or destroyed by the Soviet 1st and 3rd Belorussian Frontsin the Minsk area. The Soviets claim 400,000 German dead and 158,000taken prisoner.
July 4th, 1940: In direct response to the devastating British attack onthe French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, the Vichy French government ofMarshal Petain breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain. In theHouse of Commons, prime minister Churchill declares,’I leave thejudgment of our actions with confidence to Parliament. I leave it to thenation and I leave it to the United States [?!]. I leave it to the worldand to history.’ German Stukas and MTBs attack a British convoy S ofPortland, sinking 5 merchant ships. Italian bombers raid Malta andAlexandria.
July 4th. 1941: Units of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) capture Ostrov sof Pskovsk.
July 4th, 1942: Off the northern coast of Norway, German U-boats andLuftwaffe torpedo planes attack Convoy PQ-17 bound for Murmansk. Over aperiod of 6 days, they sink 24 ships out of a total of 37. In the East,the German 11.Armee (von Manstein) completes the occupation of theCrimea, taking 97,000 Soviet prisoners. For the first time, 6 B-17s ofthe US 8th Air Force join an RAF bomber formation in raids on Germanairfields in Holland.
July 4th, 1943: General Sikorski, leader of the London-basedanti-Communist Polish government-in-exile, is killed in a plane crash atGibraltar, some suspect as the result of deliberate sabotage.
July 4th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Baltic Front begins anoffensive toward Riga, capturing Potolsk and threatening to isolateHeeresgruppe Nord in its fighting retreat from iEstonia.
July 5th, 1940: In retaliation for the British action at Mers-el-Kebir,Vichy French warships based at Dakar capture 3 British merchant ships,while French aircraft stationed in Morocco attack British shipping offGibraltar. The British destroyer Whirlwind is sunk by U-34 (Kptlt.Rollmann) SW of Ireland. The RAF carries out night raids on Kiel andWilhelmshaven.
July 5th. 1941: In the East, units of 6.Armee (von Reichenau) breakthrough the Stalin Line E of Lvov, while Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist)continues its advance toward Zhitomir and Berdichev in the Ukraine. TheRAF carries out night raids on M=FCnster and Bielefeld.
July 5th, 1942: Armored units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) reach the Don atVoronesh.
July 5th, 1943: Beginning of Unternehmen Zitadelle (Operation Citadel),the massive counter-offensive by Heeresgruppe Mitte to eliminate theSoviet salient between Orel and Belgorod near Kursk. On a 200-milefront, 37 divisions totaling 900,000 men of 9.Armee (Model) attackingfrom the north, and 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) attacking from the south,including 11 Panzer divisions with 2,500 tanks and assault guns, 10,000guns and Nebelwerfer (rocket guns), as well as 1,800 aircraft go intoaction against 1,300,000 Soviet troops in deeply echeloned defensive positions and protected by 8,000 landmines per square mile, 3,300 tanks, 20,000 guns and 2,500 aircraft.Taken together, the opposing forces in this operation constitute thelargest concentration of military power ever assembled in history; thegreatest tank and air battles of WWII will be fought here. — In thenorthern sector, the Germans advance 6, in the southern, some 25 milesagainst stubborn Soviet resistance inflicting heavy casualties in tanksand infantry.
July 5th, 1944: German mini-U-boats begin operations off the Normandycoast, sinking 4 small Allied warships and damaging the British cruiserDragon.
July 6th, 1940: Off the coast of Norway, light units of the Kriegsmarinesink 5 British submarines, Narwhal, Salmon, Spearfish, Shark and Thames.After spending 8 weeks in the West, a triumphant Hitler returns toBerlin where he is wildly cheered by the Berlin population.
July 6th, 1941: In the East, Heeresgruppe Nord continues its advance,reaching a line from Lake Peipus through Reval to Parun N of the Gulf ofRiga. In Libya, Axis aircraft bomb Tobruk and Sidi Barrani.
July 6th, 1942: In Egypt, the Afrikakorps is holding on to its positionsbefore El Alamein against continuous attacks by the British Eighth Army.U-132 (Kptlt. Vogelsang) enters the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Canadianeast coast and sinks 3 merchant ships.
July 6th. 1943: In the East, the battle of Kursk continues with unabatedferocity. While the northern pincer of 9.Armee (Model) is struggling tomake any significant progress, the southern pincer of 4.Panzerarmee(Hoth) advances some 12 miles, with both sides incurring heavycasualties.
July 6th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front recapturesKovel SE of Brest-Litovsk. In Italy, the British Eighth Army (Leese)captures Osimo 20 miles S of Ancona.
July 7th, 1940: A French naval squadron that has sought refuge atAlexandria is disarmed and interned by the British Navy, while thebattleship Richelieu berthed at Dakar is attacked and disabled byBritish naval forces.
July 7th. 1941: Under the pretext of defending the Western Hemisphereagainst Nazi incursions, the US 1st Marine Brigade is landed in Icelandto relieve the British garrison that has been there since the previousyear.
July 7th, 1942: In the East, units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) captureVoronesh on the Don.
July 7th, 1943: In the battle of Kursk, the German forces engaged arestill unable to achieve a major breakthrough in the face of stiffeningSoviet resistance reenforced by the arrival of strong tank and infantryreserves. Lt. Hartmann, II/JG 52, downs 7 Soviet aircraft near Kursk,bringing his total to date to 22. Off the coast of Brazil, U-185 (Kptlt.Maus) sinks 3 merchant ships.
July 7th, 1944: In the West, 450 heavy RAF bombers carry out asaturation raid (2,300 tons) on the German defenses in and around Caen.Attacks by the US Seventh Army (Bradley) in the Carentan area of theCotentin peninsula are blunted by violent German counter-attacks.
July 8th, 1941: In the East, Panzergruppe 4 (Hoepner) of HeeresgruppeNord (von Leeb) captures Pskov and advances toward Novgorod andLeningrad. Germany and Italy announce the dissolution of the state ofYugoslavia, with large portions annexed by Italy; an independent stateof Croatia, allied to the Axis and with its capital at Agram (Zagreb),is proclaimed.
July 8th, 1942: In the East, 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) at Voronesh begins anoffensive SE along the west bank of the Don to meet up with 6.Armee(Paulus) advancing E toward the Don from Charkov with the objective ofestablishing bridgeheads across the river in the Kalach area andcontinue on to capture Stalingrad on the Volga. Axis bombers carry outraids on harbor facilities at Malta in the Mediterranean.
July 8th, 1943: The battle of Kursk is about to reach its climax, withthe exhausted German forces unable to make any further gains whilelosing vast numbers of men, tanks and planes. Soviet claims for the dayare 304 tanks and 161 aircraft, the German 400 tanks and 193 aircraft.
July 8th, 1944: In the West, the British Second Army (Dempsey) begins amajor attack (Operation Epsom) to capture Caen. In the East, the Soviet1st Belorussian Front recaptures Baranovichi NW of Brest-Litovsk.
July 9th, 1940: The German raider Komet leaves Bergen in Norway foroperations in the Pacific via the Northwest Passage in the Arctic Oceanassisted by Soviet icebreakers.
July 9th, 1941: In the East, Vitebsk is captured by troops ofHeeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock). To date, the Red Army has lost 2.500tanks and 300,000 men as prisoners of war.
July 9th, 1942: In Egypt, renewed attacks by the Afrikakorps againstBritish defenses at El Alamein bog down in the face of stubborn Britishresistance.
July 9th, 1943: Beginning of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion ofSicily, with the US 82nd and the British 1st Airborne Divisions makingthe first landings at night; due to navigational errors, hundreds of USparatroopers are dropped in the sea and are drowned, while many othersare widely scattered and miss their assigned targets.
July 9th, 1944: In the West, units of the British Second Army enter Caenwhich has been reduced to a heap of rubble due to the preceding heavyaerial and artillery bombardments by the Allies.
July 10th, 1940: Beginning of the Battle of Britain. – The Luftwaffecarries out its first large scale attack (70 aircraft) against targetsin Britain by bombing dock facilities at Swansea and the Royal OrdnanceFactory at Pembrey in Wales.
July 10th, 1941: In the East, Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) repulses aviolent Soviet counter-attack in the area of Korosten W of Kiev. TheFinnish Karelian Army (Heinrichs) begins an offensive toward Lake LadogaNE of Leningrad.
July 10th, 1942: In the East, armored units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) and6.Armee (Paulus) of Heeresgruppe B (von Weichs) join up N of Kalach onthe Don, while 17.Armee (Ruoff) and 1.Panzerarmee (von Kleist) ofHeeresgruppe A (List) continue their advance toward Rostov.
July 10th, 1943: Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, is nowfully underway with 12 divisions (160,000 men and 600 tanks) of the USSeventh (Patton) and the British Eighth (Montgomery) Armies beingbrought ashore by 3,000 landing craft (200 sunk by rough seas) on thesoutheast coast of Sicily.While the British approaching Syracuse meetwith little German resistance, the US forces are held back by strongcounter-attacks of the Hermann G=F6ring and the Italian LivornoDivisions.
July 10th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army begins 3 major offensivesinto the Baltic States: the 2nd Belorussian Front NW from Vitebsk, the3rd Belorussian Front W from Psovsk, and the Leningrad Front SW towardNarva.
July 11th, 1940: Marshal Petain replaces president Lebrun and proclaimshimself head of state of the French Republic.
July 11th, 1941: In the East, armored units of Panzergruppe 1 (vonKleist) advance within 10 miles of Kiev. Stalin replaces 3 major Sovietcommanders appointing Voroshilov for the northern, Timoshenko for thecentral and Budjenny for the southern front.
July 11th, 1943: In the battle of Kursk, the attacking German forcesdepleted by heavy losses in men and armor have nearly spent theirmomentum. even though 4.Panzerarmee and Armee-Abteilung Kempf in thesouthern sector succeed in capturing the pivotal town of Prokhorovka. Toprevent further attrition, especially of the vital armored forces, FieldMarshals von Kluge and von Manstein urge Hitler to call off theoperation which is turning into a disaster for the entire Eastern Front,but Hitler refuses.
July 11th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army captures the remnants of theencircled 4.Armee (35.000 men). In the West, the US VIII Corps (Collins)continues its attacks from the Carentan area toward St. Lo, but ismeeting with strong German resistance. The United States formallyrecognizes the provisional French government of General de Gaulle atLondon as the de facto government of France.
July 12th, 1940: The Luftwaffe carries out raids on Aberdeen in Scotlandand Cardiff in Wales.
July 12th, 1941: The last Vichy French troops in Syria surrender toBritish and Free French forces. Great Britain and the Soviet Union signa Mutual Assistance Pact declaring that neither state will make aseparate peace with the Axis Powers. In the East, the Luftwaffe launchesits first bombing raid on Moscow, but with minimal results.
July 12th, 1942: The Soviet Stavka (Red Army High Command) establishes aStalingrad Front under Marshal Timoshenko. On the Leningrad front,troops of Heeresgruppe Nord complete the reduction of the Volchovpocket, taking 30,000 Soviet prisoners, including General Vlasov, CO ofthe Second Guards Army and later to become C-in-C of the anti-BolshevikRussian Liberation Army.
July 12th, 1943: In the East, while the battle of Kursk is still raging,the Soviet Central (Rokossovsky), Bryansk (Popov) and West Fronts(Sokolovsky) begin a massive counter- offensive in the area of Orel,Bryansk and Kursk. At Krasnograd near Moscow, a group of captured Germanofficers, including Field Marshal Paulus and General von Seydlitz, andexiled German communists form the ‘National Committee for a FreeGermany’ that calls for the overthrow of Hitler and the cessation ofhostilities against the Soviet Union. In Sicily, the Allies captureAugusta and Ragusa.
July 12th, 1944: In the West, the US First Army (Bradley) advancing Sfrom the Carentan area toward St. Lo is slowly gaining ground againstfierce resistance by the German 7.Armee (Dollmann).
July 13th, 1940: Hitler issues Directive No. 15 outlining the details ofUnternehmen Seel=F6we (Operation Sea Lion), the German invasion of theBritish Isles. In advance of the landings, the Luftwaffe is to beginoperations against British defensive positions, airfields and radarinstallations along the southern coast of England on August 15; 2.600aircraft have been earmarked for this purpose.
July 13th, 1941: In the East, troops of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Leeb)continue their advance from Pskov toward Luga, 75 miles from Leningrad.
July 13th, 1942: President Roosevelt orders the establishment of the Oss(Office of Strategic Services), with Colonel Donovan as director.
July 13th, 1943: Finally admitting that despite the maximum efforts bythe German forces to break through the Soviet defenses no further gainscan be made, Hitler orders the suspension of Operation Citadel. Thoughthe Wehrmacht is able to extricate most of its depleted forces from apotential disaster – a second Stalingrad – this outcome of the battlerepresents a tremendous victory for the Red Army and portends the end ofGerman offensive operations in the East.
July 13th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army recaptures Vilna inLithuania, and continues its advance into eastern Galicia.
July 14th. 1941: Believing the campaign in the East soon to be concludedin Germany’s favor, Hitler orders the German war industry to shiftproduction away from guns and armored vehicles to U-boats and airplanes.In Syria, an armistice is signed at Acre between the Vichy andBritish-Free French forces.
July 14th, 1942: In the East, the advances by Heeresgruppe A (List) andHeeresgruppe B (von Weichs) toward the Don bend at Kalach and Rostovcontinue against minimal Soviet resistance. In Egypt, an attack by theBritish Eighth Army against the positions of the Afrikakorps S of ElAlamein is unsuccessful.
July 14th. 1943: Joining in the counter-offensive by the Central,Bryansk and Western Fronts, the Soviet Western Front (Vatutin) launchesattacks against 4.Panzerarmee and Armee-Abteilung Kempf in the southernsector of the Kursk salient.
July 14th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev)begins an offensive E of Lvov and recaptures Pinsk.
July 15, 1940: The Luftwaffe carries out raids against British convoysin the English Channel as well as airfields and railway lines in SWEngland.
July 15th, 1941: German fores of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) encircle300,000 Soviet troops in the Smolensk-Orsha pocket. In the outskirts ofLeningrad, hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians, mostly women andteenagers, begin constructing over 300 miles of trenches and fieldfortifications.
July 15th, 1942: In the East, units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) captureKamensk on the Donets.
July 15th, 1944: In Italy, the British Eighth Army (Leese) reaches theriver Arno near Arezzo. The Italian government returns to Rome.
July 16th, 1940: Hitler issues Directive No. 16 ordering preparations tobegin for Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sealion), the seaborneinvasion of England, to be completed by mid-August.
July 16th, 1941: In the East, Finnish troops break through Sovietpositions N of Lake Ladoga. On the central front, German forces ofHeeesgruppe Mitte begin the destruction of several Soviet divisionsencircled in the Uman pocket. Stalin’s son, Lt. Jacob Dugashvili, istaken prisoner near Vitebsk. In Libya, Axis bombers carry out raids onTobruk.
July 16th, 1942: In Egypt, the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) attacksthe Afrikakorps’ positions at El Alamein, gaining some ground near therailway station.
July 16th, 1943: In Sicily, troops of the US Seventh Army (Patton)continue their advance toward Palermo, while the British VIII Corps(Dempsey) approaches Catania.
July 16th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st and 3rd Belorussian Frontsconverge to capture Grodno SW of Vilna. In Italy, Allied forces aremaking only slow progress against German positions of the Gothic Line Sof the Arno river.
July 17th, 1941: In the East, units of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock)cross the Dnepr river near Mogilev, while in the South the Rumanian4.Armee (Dumitrescu) captures Kishinev on the lower Dnestr. Axis bomberscarrry out raids on port facilities on Malta.
July 17th, 1942: In the East, units of Heeresgruppe A (List) captureVoroshilovgrad in the Donets industrial region. The German 6.Armee(Paulus) and 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) continue their advance toward Kalachon the Don.
July 17th, 1943: In Sicily, units of the US Seventh Army captureAgrigento on the road to Palermo.
July 17th, 1944: Returning by car to his HQ at La Roche-Guyon from atour of inspection to I.SS-Panzerkorps S of Caen, Field Marshal Rommel,C-in-C of Heeresgruppe B, is severely wounded in a low-level attack byan RAF fighter bomber. In Italy, the British Eighth Army advances towardAncona and Florence. In the East, the Soviet First Guards Tank Armyreaches the River Bug, the old border between Poland and the UssR. AtMoscow, 57,000 German prisoners of war captured in Belorussia, includingseveral generals, are paraded through the center of the city. In Norway,the British Navy launches an abortive carrier raid on the Germanbattleship Tirpitz in Kaa Fjord.
July 18th, 1940: The RAF carries out a daylight raid on invasion bargesat Rotterdam, and a night raid on the Krupp armaments works at Essen inthe Ruhr.
July 18th, 1942: In the East, the advance by 6.Armme and 4. Panzerarmeetoward the Don bend at Kalach continues. The RAF launches a night raidon Duisburg.
July 18th, 1943: In Sicily, the attacks by the British Eighth Army(Montgomery) before Catania are stalled in the face of stiff Germanresistance.
July 18th, 1944: In the West, units of thr US First Army (Bradley) enterSt. Lo. In the Caen area, the British Second Army (Dempsey) beginsOperation Goodwood with the objective of dislodging and destroying theGerman forces fiercely opposing its further advance, notably the I.(Dietrich) and II.SS-Panzerkorps (Bittrich), and then to break out andjoin up with US forces to the south.
July 19th, 1940: In A speech before the Reichstag, Hitler reviews theevents of the past months, the occupation of Holland and the utterdefeat of the Allies in Belgium and France, and declares his readinessto enter into negotiations with Britain to end the war, ‘In this hour, Ifeel it to be my duty before my own conscience to appeal once more toreason and common sense in Britain as much as elsewhere. I considermyself to be in a position to make this appeal since I am not thevanquished begging favors, but the victor speaking in the name ofreason. I can see no grounds why this war must go on.’ Two days later,this appeal is rejected out of hand by the British government of WinstonChurchill.
July 19th, 1941: In a major change of operational plans, Hitler issuesDirective No. 33 ordering the German 4.Armee (von Kluge) andPanzergruppe 2 (Guderian) of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) to suspendtheir attacks toward Moscow and join 6.Armee (von Reichenau) andPanzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) of Heeresgruppe S=FCd (von Rundstedt) withthe objective of destroying the Soviet Fifth, Sixth and Twelfth Armies Wof the Dnepr-Dnestr line. The idea behind this directive is to beginexploiting the great agricultural and mineral riches of the Ukraine forthe German war effort just as soon as the Soviet forces in that regionare defeated. Both Kluge and Guderian object, but are curtly overruledby Hitler.
July 19th, 1942: In the East, the two-pronged German advance toward theDon bend and to Stalingrad beyond (6. Armee and 4.Panzerarmee) andtoward Rostov (1.Panzerarmee) continues in the face of stiffening Sovietresistance.
July 19th, 1943: In Sicily, the US Seventh Army (Patton) makes furtherprogress toward Palermo, while the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) isheld up before Catania by stubborn German resistance. The US 15th AirForce (270 aircraft) attacks marshalling yards on the outskirts of Rome.
July 19th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev)encircles 5 German divisions W of Brody. In Italy, the US Fifth Army(Clark) captures Leghorn.
July 20th, 1940: Reichsmarschall G=F6ring, C-in-C of the Luftwaffe,orders the formation of a Nachtjagdgeschwader (night fighter wing), NJG1, under Oberst (Colonel) Kammhuber, consisting of Me-110 fighterbombers.
July 20th, 1941: Stalin appoints himself People’s Commissar for Defense.The RAF launches a raid on Naples.
July 20th. 1943: Cancellation of Operation Brimstone, the Alliedinvasion of Sardinia, in favor of alternate landings in the area S ofNaples (Anzio).
July 20th. 1944: At 12:42 p.m. CET, a powerful bomb explodes in thewooden briefing hut at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair), Hitler’s secretHQ near Rastenburg in East Prussia, during Hitler’s Lagebesprechung(daily noon-time conference on operations on all fronts) with his chiefsof staff and their aides of the OKW and OKH. Aside from minor injuries,Hitler is unharmed, but four people, Colonel Brandt, Generals Korten andSchmundt, as well as a stenographer are killed, several other severelywounded. The bomb was placed by Colonel Claus Count von Stauffenberg,chief of staff of the Ersatzheer (Reserve or Home Army) who hadvolunteered to take on the task of killing Hitler on behalf of a groupof high Wehrmacht officers, among them Field Marshall von Witzleben andGeneraloberst Beck, to overthrow the Nazi regime and end the war. Hereturns to Berlin, mistakenly informing his co-conspirators at the WarMinistry that Hitler was dead and that Operation Valkyrie, the Army’slongstanding emergency plan to secure the vital government offices incase of an internal revolt, should go forward so as to be used toestablish the conspiracy’s hold on the levers of power over the Reich.Due to the prompt actions by Dr. Goebbels, Reich Propaganda Minister,who speaks with Hitler on the telephone and then orders theWachbataillon Berlin (Guards Battalion) under Major Remer to surroundall government offices and arrest any suspicious person, the Putsch isfoiled. Stauffenberg and two of his aides are captured and broughtbefore a summary court convened by Generaloberst Fromm, C-in-C of theHome Army; they are convicted of high treason and shot by a firing squadthe same evening. In the coming months, some 5,000 persons implicated inthe conspiracy will be executed. In the Arctic Ocean, 7 German U-boatsbegin laying minefields off the Soviet Lend-Lease port of Archangelsk.
July 21st, 1940: In accordance with the results of the July 14referendums blatantly rigged by the Soviet occupying power, the UssRannexes the three Baltic States of Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania.
July, 21st, 1941: In the East, the Luftwaffe launches its first bombingraid (127 aircraft) on Moscow, which is followed by another 73 raidsuntil the end of the year. In the Mediterranean, a British 7-ship convoyfrom Gibraltar to Malta escorted by heavy units of the Royal Navy isattacked by Italian bombers and MTBs which sink one merchant ship andthe destroyer Fearless.
July 21st, 1944: At 1:00 a.m. CET, Hitler goes on the air to assure theGerman people that all is well, and that the Putsch has been foiled: ‘Avery small clique of ambitious, dishonorable and criminally stupidofficers had formed a plot to remove me and at the same time overturnthe High Command of the German armed forces… I myself am absolutelyunhurt. I regard this as a confirmation of the decree of Providence thatI should continue to pursue the goal of my life, as I have done up tillnow… The circle of the conspirators is a very small one. It hasnothing in common with the spirit of the German armed forces and, aboveall, with the German people. It is a very small gang of criminalelements who will now be ruthlessly exterminated.’ Reaction to this newsthroughout the country is one of deep shock and disbelief; there arespontaneous demonstrations of hatred for the conspirators and sympathyfor ‘our beloved Führer’. — Suspecting more treason around him,Hitler replaces General Fromm as C-in-C of the Home Army withReichsführer-SS Himmler, and General Zeitzler as Chief of Staff of theOKH with Generaloberst Guderian. In the East, the Soviet 3rd BalticFront recaptures Ostrov S of Lake Peipus, while the 1st BelorussianFront advances toward Brest-Litovsk and Lublin. In Italy, the US FifthArmy prepares for a major attack on the Gothic Line.
July 22nd, 1941: In the East, armored spearheads of Panzergruppe 4(Hoepner) advancing toward Leningrad reach Lake Ilmen.
July 22nd, 1942: Units of 1.Panzerarmee (von Kleist) are fighting theirway into the northern outskirts of Rostov-on-Don which is fiercelydefended by the Red Army.
July 22nd, 1943: In Sicily, the US Seventh Army (Patton) enters Palermo.
July 22nd, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Frontrecaptures Chelm.
July 23, 1940: The Soviets take Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as perthe Soviet-German non-agression pact in which Poland was dividedbetween the two, and the Baltic Nations were “given” to the Soviets. Aprovisional Czech Government is set up in London under Dr. Benes.
July 23, 1941: Brest-Litovsk is taken by German troops after a month-longsiege.
July 23, 1942: Rostov-on-Don is captured by the 1.Panzer-Armee, thusclearing the way for the advance of Armeegruppe A toward the Caucasus andKuban region. In North Africa, fighting continues on the El Alameinfront.
July 23, 1943: American forces continue to occupy the Island of Sicily inthe Mediterranian Sea. In the East, Soviets forces advance in the regionof Orel and finish mopping up German troops from the southern sector ofthe Kursk salient.
July 23, 1944: Introduction of the “Deutsche Gruss”, the Nazi form ofsalute, to the Wehrmacht in the wake of the July 20th bomb plot againstAdolf Hitler. German troops clear the city of Narva and force bridgeheadsover the Narva River. Soviet forces retake Pskov south of Lake Peipus.
July 24, 1942: Large numbers of Russian troops are liquidated in andaround Rostov after German troops secure the city.
July 24, 1943: In Germany the RAF starts a series of devastatingbombing raids (6 over 10 days) against the city of Hamburg. These raidskill over 40,000 people and ruin a quarter of the city’s dwellings. Thedropping of tons of anti-radar foil, code-named Window, effectivelyparalyz the German early-warning system and blind the flak defenses.Bombing attacked are also launched against industrial targets in Norway.In the Mediterranian, American forces continue to secure Siciliy.
July 24, 1944: Russians occupy Hungerberg and Riigi. Lublink, Poland isoccupied by the Soviets. The River San is crossed by the Sovietsnorthwest of Lvov. The 3rd Baltic Army, consisting of 20 divisions,faces the German forces in the region of Narva – the entire Northern frontis set to explode.
July 25, 1941: 33 Italian naval assault troops attempt to enter Vallettaharbor on the island of Malta to attack British ships, but are discovered,15 men are killed and 18 are taken prisoner.
July 25, 1943: Benito Mussolini is arrested by order of the ItalianKing, which ends the Fascist regime in Italy. Hitler orders Germandivisions rushed south to disarm their former allies. In Sicily,Allied forces begin to face stiff resistance as they approach Messina.
July 25, 1944: Narva and the Narva bend are evacuated and troops take upposition along the Tannenberg Position. Soviet forces cut the road betweenDvinsk and Riga in Lativa. Lvov is surrounded, and Soviet forces convergeon Brest-Litovsk. In the West, Operation Cobra begins in Normandy.
July 26, 1942: Start of the advance by Armeegruppe A from Rostov and thelower Don toward the Caucasus region.
July 26, 1943: Marshal Badoglio is appointed head of Italy by the ItalianKing after the arrest of Benito Mussolini. Hilter orders a number ofWaffen-SS division sent from Russia to Italy, but only the1.SS-Panzer-Division is actually transfered.
July 26, 1944: After months of heavy fighting, the Red Army finallyrecaptures Narva in the “Battle of the European ss” – named as suchbecause of the very large numbers of foreign troops in the ranks of theGerman Waffen-SS who held the lines in and around Narva. Fightingrages in Normandy as Allied troops continue to attempt to break out oftheir beachhead.
July 27, 1942: German troops take Bataysk, and 6.Armee launches anattack to destroy a bridgehead west of Stalingrad at Kalach.
July 27, 1943: The second in a series of 7 RAF bombing raids againstHamburg takes place, producing a violent firestorm that incineratesthousands of people and buildings. The liberation of Mussolini, theoccupation of Rome and all of Italy, and the capture of the Italian fleetis decided upon by the German High Command. Mussolini himself istransfered from Rome to the Island of Ponza. Heavy fighting continuesin Sicily.
July 27, 1944: Soviet forces recapture Dunaburg, Bialystok and Lvov.Soviet forces secure a major bridgehead over the Magnuszew River. In theWest, US troops breakthrough at St. Lo, forcing a general Germanwithdrawal from Normandy toward the Seine.
July 28, 1942: The effect of the fall of Rostov spreads panic and terrorin the Soviet Union, promting harsh counter-measures by the Soviet HighCommand.
July 28, 1944: Soviet troops are fighting for Brest-Litovsk in the SovietUnion, and US troops take Coutances in France. The objectives ofOperation COBRA are met.
July 29, 1942: German troops take Proletarskaya and establish a bridgeheadover the Manych River in the Caucasus region.
July 29, 1943: Fighting continues for the Island of Sicily. In the East,Armeegruppe A launches counter attacks to improve its positions along theMius River.
July 29, 1944: Fighting heavy defensive battles in Estonia and Latvia,Armeegruppe Nord is cut off as a result of the Soviets capturing Riga andadvancing to the Baltic coast, creating the infamous Kuland pocket. TheRed Army recaptures Brest-Litovsk. In the West, the last of a series ofRAF bombing raids on Stuttgart that kill 900 and leave 100,000 homelesstakes place.
July 30, 1943: Armeegruppe A losses the initiative in its attack to secureits postions along the Mius River.
July 30, 1944: The US 4th Armored Division seizes Avranches.
July 31, 1942: Heavy RAF night raid on Düsseldorf.
July 31, 1944: US breakthrough at Avranches, France, forcing the Germandefenders to retreat further east. British VIII Corps begins OperationBLUECOAT, an assault towards Vire.