WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: March

March 1st

March 1st, 1941: Bulgaria joins the Tripartite Pact of Germany, Italy and Japan,following Slovakia, Rumania and Hungary.

March 1st, 1943: On the central front in the East, German troops begin theevacuation of the Rshev area.

March 1st, 1945: In the West, the US Ninth Army (Simpson) capturesMünchen-Gladbach and Rheydt west of the Rhine. In the East, units ofHeeresgruppe Mitte (Schörner) recapture Lauban in Lower Silesia.

March 2nd

March 2nd, 1941: Great Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with Bulgaria.

March 2nd, 1945: Armored spearheads of the US Ninth Army reach the Rhine nearNeuss. The US Third Army (Patton) captures Trier on the Moselle river.The RAF launches a heavy attack (300 bombers) against Mannheim, causinga devastating firestorm.

March 3rd

March 3rd, 1942: RAF Bomber Command, under its new C-i-C, Air Vice Marshal Harris(Bomber Harris), attacks the Renault plant in the Paris suburb ofBilancourt, causing serious damage to production facilities and killingmany French workers.

March 3rd, 1945: Units of the Canadian First Army (Crerar) capture Xanten on thelower Rhine in the battle of the Reichswald. The US First Army (Hodge)captures Krefeld.

March 4th

March 4th, 1941: The British Eighth Army (Wavell) transfers some of its units fromEgypt to Greece. On the northern Norwegian coast, British light navalunits and commandos carry out a raid on the Lofoten islands near Narvik,destroying port and oil storage facilities.

March 4th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front (Konev) begins anoffensive against Heeresgruppe Süd (von Manstein).

March 4th, 1945: Units of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) establish a newbridgehead across the Oder south of Frankfurt.

March 5th

March 5th, 1942: The RAF launches an attack against Essen in the Ruhr, but withdisappointing results.

March 5th, 1945: The fortress city of Graudenz on the Vistula surrenders to troopsof the 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky), while Königsberg,Breslau,Küstrin, Frankfurt/Oder and Kolberg are still holding out.

March 6th

March 6th, 1945: Beginning of a German counter offensive toward the Drau river inHungary. The US 8th Air Force launches a heavy attack against Chemnitzin Saxony. The US First Army captures Cologne on the west bank of theRhine.

March 7th

March 7th, 1941: U-47, commanded by top ace Korvkpt. G&uumlnther Prien, hero of ScapaFlow, is reported missing in the North Atlantic.

March 7th, 1945: German engineers having failed to blow it, advance units of the USFirst Army capture the Ludendorff railway bridge at Remagen, the lastremaining bridge across the Rhine, allowing US troops to gain a firstfoothold on the east bank of the river.

March 8th

March 8th, 1944: The US 8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack againstBerlin.

March 8th, 1945: Beginning of secret negotiations at Bern, Switzerland, betweenrepresentatives of the American Oss (Allan Dulles) and the German HighCommand in Italy (General von Vietinghoff and SS General Wolff) for anearly surrender of German forces in Italy. In the East, the Red Armypenetrates into the southern suburbs of Breslau.

March 9th

March 9th, 1941: Beginning of an ill-fated Italian offensive in Albania.

March 9th, 1943: Generaloberst von Arnim replaces FM Rommel as C-i-C of Germanforces in Tunisia.

March 9th, 1945: German light naval vessels from the still German-ocupied BritishChannel Islands enter the Allied supply port of Granville in Bretagne,sinking five ships. Units of the US Third Army capture Andernach on theRhine. on the Oder front in the East, troops of the Soviet 1stBelorussian Front are fighting inside the fortress of Küstrin.

March 10th

March 10th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Uman in the Ukraine.

March 10th, 1945: FM Kesselring replaces FM von Rundstedt as C-i-C of German forcesin the West. German troops evacuate Wesel on the lower Rhine. The USThird Army captures Bonn. In the East, the Kriegsmarine evacuates 25,000civilian refugees from the besieged Baltic fortress of Kolberg inPommerania. In the battle for Danzig, the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Frontcaptures Zoppot.

March 11th

March 11th, 1941: The US House of Representatives passes the Lend-Lease Act 317-71,the Senate having already passed it 60-31 on March 7; it is immediatelysigned by President Roosevelt.

March 11th, 1945: The US third Army captures Kochem on the lower Moselle river. Inthe East, the Red Army approaches Gotenhafen, closing a vital port ofembarkation for tens of thousands of refugees from East Prussia who arenow heading for the Hela peninsula.

March 12th

March 12th, 1940: Formalling ending the “Winter War”, Finland and the UssR sign apeace treaty that compels the Finns to cede parts of Carelia as well as”lease” their Baltic ports of Hangö and Vipurii to the Soviets.

March 12th, 1943: German troops evacuate Vjasma on the central front.

March 13th

March 13th, 1941: The Luftwaffe carries out heavy raids against the British ports ofGlasgow and Liverpool.

March 13th, 1942: The Red Army launches an attack against Heeresgruppe B (vonManstein) from the Kerch peninsula in the eastern Crimea.

March 13th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Cherson at the mouth of the Dnestr riveron the Black Sea.

March 13th, 1945: The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) captures the Oderfortress of Küstrin, 70 miles east of Berlin, while the 2ndBelorussian Front (Rokossovsky) launches an offensive against theBraunsberg pocket south of Königsberg. Following a 600-bomber raid bythe US 8th Air Force, the RAF (with 800 bombers) attacks Swinemündenorth of Stettin, a major port of disembarkation for German escapeesfrom the East, causing heavy damage to the docks and killing hundreds ofrefugees.

March 14th

March 14th, 1945: The US Third Army crosses the Moselle river near Koblenz. InHungary, the German counterattack to recapture the oilfields near LakeBalaton comes to an end. In East Prussia, the Red Army cuts allcommunications between Königsberg and the German forces fighting inthe Braunsberg pocket. The US 15th Air Force, taking off from Italianairfields, launches a heavy raid (500 bombers) against Regensburg, whilethe RAF attacks Wuppertal with 400 aircraft.

March 15th

March 15th, 1944: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front breaks through German defenses andreaches the Bug river, a 1941 German starting line for OperationBarbarossa.

March 15th, 1945: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front begins an offensive in the Ratiborarea of Upper Silesia. In the West, attacks by troops of the US FirstArmy to expand the Remagen bridgehead meet with little success.

March 16th

March 16th, 1941: The Kriegsmarine loses two of its most successful U-boatcommanders, Kretschmer (U-99) and Schepke (U-100) to British convoyescorts.

March 16th, 1943: Armored Waffen-SS units of Heeresgruppe Süd (von Manstein)recapture Charkov.

March 16th, 1944: On the Italian front, repeated attempts by the British 8th Army(Alexander) to break through the Gustav Line at Cassino fail. In theNorth Atlantic, two U-boat wolf packs, code-named Raubgraf andStürmer, attack Convoys HX229 and SC122, and over a period of fourdays and nights sink 21 ships (141,000 tons total), for the loss of oneU-boat, U-384 (Oblt. von Rosenberg-Gruszinski).

March 16th, 1945: In Hungary, the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front (Tolbukhin) begins anoffensive toward Lake Balaton. In the East, the German heavy vesselsSchlesien and Prinz Eugen support the forces of Heeresgruppe Kurland intheir defense against heavy Soviet attacks to break up the Kessel. TheUS 8th Air Force launches a massive attack (675 bombers) against the HQcomplex of the OKH at Zossen 20 miles south of Berlin, but with minimaleffect.

March 17th

March 17th, 1945: The US Third Army (Patton) captures Koblenz on the Rhine. TheLudendorff bridge at Remagen, seized by US troops on March 7, suddenlycollapses, killing dozens of US Army engineers working to reenforce it.

March 18th

March 18th, 1940: Hitler and Mussolini meet at the Brenner Pass in northern Italy,Mussolini agreeing to Italy’s entry into the war “at an opportunemoment”.

March 18th, 1945: In the East, the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky)captures the fortress city of Kolberg after 68,000 civilian refugeeshave been evacuated by sea. The US Third Army captures Boppard on theRhine.

March 19th

March 19th, 1943: In Tunisia, the British 8th Army (Montgomery) begins an offensiveagainst Italian defenses of the Mareth Line.

March 19th, 1945: The US Seventh Army (Patch) captures Worms on the Rhine. In theEast, heavy fighting in Hungary and East Prussia. The US 8th Air Forcecarries out another heavy attack (200 bombers and 700 fighters) againstBerlin. Hitler orders the demolition of all German industrial, utilityand transport facilities in danger of falling into enemy hands; thisorder (Verbrannte Erde Scorched Earth) is sabotaged by armamentsminister Speer and most local commanders.

March 20th

March 20th, 1942: The Soiet offensive at Kerch in the Crimea is defeated with heavylosses to the Soviets.

March 20th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Vinnitsa in the Ukraine, Hitler’s HQ in1943.

March 20th, 1945: German troops of Heeresgruppe Weichsel evacuate their bridgeheadacross the Oder at Stettin. In East Prussia, the Red Army capturesBraunsberg, 40 miles south of Königsberg.

March 21st

March 21st, 1945: In Hungary, the Red Army captures Stuhlweissenburg. In the West,units of the US First Army advance from the Remagen bridgehead towardSiegburg. The US 8th Air Force launches a major attack (650 bombers)against Hamburg.

March 22nd

March 22nd, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte recapture Belgorod.
March 22nd, 1945: Units of the US Third Army cross the Rhine at Oppenheim south ofMainz against minimal German resistance.

March 23rd

March 23rd, 1945: The Red Army reaches the outskirts of Danzig and Gotenhafen. TheRAF launches a devastating raid (300 bombers) against Hildesheim nearHannover, a small city of little military and industrial importance.

March 24th

March 24th, 1941: In Libya, the newly arrived Afrikakorps under Generaloberst Rommelbegins an offensive and recaptures El Agheila, the farthest pointreached by the British 8th Army (Wavell) in February.

March 24th, 1944: The Luftwaffe attacks London with 90 medium bombers (He-111s andJu-88s), while the RAF bombs Berlin with 810 heavy Lancasters. In Italy,the US Fifth Army’s (Clark) bridgehead at Anzio is bombarded by Germanheavy long-range guns (Screaming Mimies) and Luftwaffe aircraft usingguided bombs, causing severe casualties in men, ships, and equipment.Persistent US and British attacks against the Gustav Line at Cassino arerepulsed by the German defenders.

March 24th, 1945: In a major effort (Operation Plunder), units of the British SecondArmy (Dempsey) cross the lower Rhine at Wesel, followed by 40,000 US andBritish airborne troops (Operation Varsity). The US Third Army capturesSpeyer and Ludwigshafen on the upper Rhine. In the East, the 1stUkrainian Front captures Neisse in Upper Silesia.

March 25th

March 25th, 1941: Yugoslavia joins the Tripartite Pact.

March 25th, 1945: The British Second Army captures Wesel which has been nearly 100%destroyed by Allied bombing.

March 26th

March 26th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Kamenets-Podolsk. in the Ukraine.

March 26th, 1945: The US Third Army captures Darmstadt. Reichsführer-SS Himmler isreplaced by General Heinrici as C-i-C of Heeresgruppe Weichsel.

March 27th

March 27th, 1941: In Yugoslavia, a coup by General Simonic and other army officersoverthrows the pro-German government.

March 27th, 1945: The US Third Army captures Aschaffenburg. On the Oder front,beginning of a German counterattack from the Frankfurt bridgehead towardKüstrin that bogs down after a few miles.

March 28th

March 28th, 1940: The British War Cabinet decides to lay mines in neutral Norwegianwaters and to establish military bases on the coast of Norway.

March 28th, 1941: In the Mediterranean, the British Navy attacks Italian navalforces at Cape Matapan, Greece, and sinks three cruisers and onedestroyer.

March 28th, 1942: Under the new tactical doctrine of area saturation bombing,introduced by Air Vice Marshal Harris, the RAF launches a heavyincendiary attack (234 bombers) against Lübeck on the Baltic thatdevastates 265 acres of the city.

March 28th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Nikolaev on the Black Sea and entersRumanian territory.

March 28th, 1945: Argentina declares war against Germany. The US Third Army capturesLimburg on the Lahn. In the East, the 1st Belorussian Front capturesGotenhafen north of Danzig. Hitler replaces General Guderian withGeneral Krebs as chief of the OKH.

March 29th

March 29th, 1945: The US Third Army (Patton) captures Frankfurt am Main. In Hungary,the Red Army seizes the oilfields south of Komorn, the last source ofpetroleum for the German war effort.

March 30th

March 30th, 1941: In Libya, the Afrikakorps resumes its offensive against theBritish 8th Army.

March 30th, 1945: On the Oder front, German troops of Heeresgruppe Weichsel(Heinrici) evacuate their last remaining bridgehead at Wollin N ofStettin.

March 31st

March 31st, 1945: In the Southeast, the Red Army enters German territory near Sopronin Hungary, while capturing Ratibor in Upper Silesia. In the West, theUS Third Army reaches Siegen 20 miles east of the Rhine.