WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: September

September 1

September 1, 1939: Three German Armeegruppen begin the invasion of Polandat 4:45am CET, offically launching the world into what would be the mostdestructive and deadly war in all of history. Massive strikes by theLuftwaffe destroy vital communications and assembly areas, decimating thePolish air force on the ground. Panzer and motorized divisions make deeppenetrations into the Polish defenses, using tactics soon to be known asthe Blitzkrieg. Offically, the first shots of the war are fired from the280mm deck guns of the vintage First World War BattleshipSchleswig-Holstein. The ship had survived the ravages of WWI and enteredservice in the Kriegsmarine in 1935, serving initially as a cadet trainingship. Under the guise of honoring the anniversary of the Battle ofTannenburg, the German Battleship, complete with a hidden cargo of MarineAssualt troops, was allowed by the Poles to anchor directly off thestrategic island of Westerplatte, located at the mouth of the VistulaRiver in Danzig. At 4:47am, permission was given to the ship to open fireon the island, a strategic point on the Baltic Coast needed to support thetroops advancing to the south. Shortly after 4:47am, the ship opened upits massive main guns, firing at near-pointblank range and zero elevation.Needless-to-say, the shells literally pounded the small island, but althoughthe ships guns devestated the target, they inflicted minimal casualties onthe Poles stationed within. When the Marinesturmkompaniehidden within the Battleship disembarked and launched its main assault onthe island, it was repulsed after taking heavy casualties. Anotherassault was launched later in the morning, again by theMarinesturmkompanie, after more shelling from the Schleswig-Holstein,but this assault also ending in heavy German casualties. The Westerplattewould prove impossible to take on the first day of WWII.

September 1, 1942: Units of 1.Panzerarmee (von Kleist) form a bridgeheadacross the Terek river at Mozdok in the Caucasus.

September 1, 1944: The US Third Army (Patton) occupies Verdun. Start of anattack to capture the strategic port city of Brest which the Germans haveturned into a fortress.

September 2

September 2, 1939: Failure of a last-minute effort by Mussolini to find apeaceful solution of the German-Polish conflict. German troops capture theJablunka pass in the Tatra mountains. Fighting continued for thestrategic island of Westerplatte at the mouth of the VistulaRiver. A massive attack was launched by 60 Stuka divebombers ofthe II and III Stukageschwader Immelmann directed atcrushing the island garrison. The air assault was not directly followedup by a German attack from the ground, and the Poles were able toreorganize their defense.

September 2, 1944: The remnants of German forces surrounded in theKishinev pocket surrender to the Red Army. Finland breaks off diplomaticrelations with Germany and demands the withdrawal of all German forces onFinnish soil.

September 3

September 3, 1939: THE OFFICAL BEGINNING OF WWII: After the expiration oftheir ultimatum at 11:00am CET which called for the withdrawal of allGerman forces from Poland, Britain and France declare war on Germany. TheKriegsmarine begins its campaign against British merchant shipping with 17U-boats.

September 3, 1940: Hitler sets the date of the start of Operation SeaLion, the German invasion of England, for September 21.

September 3, 1942: Continuing round-the-clock air attacks by Luftflotte 4(von Richthofen) against Stalingrad. Units of 6.Armee (von Paulus)penetrate the inner city after having joined up with forward elements of4.Panzer-Armee (Hoth) advancing from the south.

September 3, 1943: The new Italian government under Marshal Badoglio signsa ceasefire with the Allies. Troops of the British 8th Army cross theStrait of Messina and land on the Italian mainland without encounteringany opposition.

September 3, 1944: Field Marshall von Rundstedt assumes command of theGerman armies in the West. US forces advancing from the south captureLyon. British troops occupy Brussels.

September 4

September 4, 1939: German 3.Armee (von Kuechler) and 4.Armee (von Kluge)join in the Corridor and reestablish the land connection between EastPrussia and the Reich that was severed in 1919 as a result of theVersailles Treaty.

September 4, 1941: The US destroyer Greer is attacked by a German U-boatwhile tracking and harrassing it.

September 4, 1944: The Finnish Army ceases hostilities against the SovietUnion. British forces occupy Antwerp.

September 5

September 5, 1939: Under the relentless pressure by the Wehrmacht, thePolish Army withdraws behind the Vistula. First British air raids onGerman soil against Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven, with negligible results(10 Wellingtons shot down by German fighters). The United States declaresits neutrality in this war.

September 5, 1940: An irate Hitler orders a new offensive by the Luftwaffeagainst Britain with no regard for the civilian population, with London asthe primary target, after the RAF for the first time makes several nightraids on Berlin, causing many civilian casualties.

September 5, 1944: Failure of a German-Hungarian counterattack in the areaof Klausenburg in Rumania. The Soviet Union declares war on Bulgaria andinvades the country.

September 6

September 6, 1939: German troops advancing in Poland occupy the formerlyGerman industrial area of Upper Silesia. In the West, French forcesbegin a limited offensive toward Saarbruecken. South Africa declares waron Germany.

September 6, 1940: King Carol of Rumania cedes the throne to his son,Michael, and appoints Marshal Antonescu head of state.

September 6, 1942: 4.Gebirgsdivision of 17.Armee (Ruoff) captures the BlackSea port of Novorossisk. Heavy house-to-house fighting continues in thecenter of Stalingrad.

September 6, 1943: The Red Army succeeds in separating Heeresgruppe Mitte(von Kluge) from Heeresgruppe Sued (von Manstein).

September 6, 1944: Soviet troops occupy Turnu-Severin on the Danube inRumania and advance to the Yugoslav border. In Belgium, Ghent and Liegefall to British and American forces.

September 7

September 7, 1939: Mobile spearheads of the Heer reach the Narev river.Cracow surrenders, while 10.Armee (von Reichenau) advances closer toWarsaw.

September 7, 1940: The Luftwaffe begins the Blitz by launching a series ofheavy night raids against the London docks, causing widespread fires anddestruction.

September 7, 1941: The offensive by 20.Gebirgsarmee (Dietl) in northernFinland to capture the vital Lend-Lease port of Murmansk comes to a halt.Mobile units of 6.Armee (von Paulus) achieve a breakthrough at Konotop inthe Ukraine.

September 7, 1943: 17. Armee begins the evacuation of the Kuban bridgeheadacross the Strait of Kerch to the Crimea.

September 7, 1944: Rumania, now allied with the Soviet Union, declares waron Hungary whose forces are still fighting on the German side.

September 8

September 8, 1939: Polish defenders of the Westerplatte at Danzig surrenderafter a week of continuous bombardment. The Polish government leaves Warsawfor Lublin, while its forces encircled at Radom face a hopelesssituation.

September 8, 1941: Leningrad is now completely surrounded after Germantroops close the land bridge at Schluesselburg.

September 8, 1943: German reserves are rushed to Italy in the wake of theceasefire between the Badoglio government and the Allies.

September 8, 1944: The first supersonic V-2 rockets are launched againstLondon and other cities from mobile bases in Holland. Bulgaria declareswar on Germany.

September 9

September 9, 1939: 4.Armee (von Kluge) captures Lodz and Radom on the roadto Warsaw.

September 9, 1943: All Italian forces within the German-controlled areasof Italy, southern France, Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece are disarmedwithout opposition and made prisoners of war. The US Fifth Army(Clark) carries out a landing at Salerno in southern Italy. The Italianfleet sails to Malta where it surrenders to the Royal Navy. Formation ofan anti-Badoglio, German-allied Italian government, the Republican FascistGovernment of Salo, in northern Italy. Iran, under pressure from theAllies who occupy the country, declares war on Germany.

September 9, 1944: General de Gaulle forms a provisional French governmentthat includes Communists.

September 10

September 10, 1939: In Poland, German troops achieve a breakthrough atKutno and Sandomir and reach the Vistula. Canada declares war onGermany.

September 10, 1941: British convoy SC42 (64 ships) is attacked by awolfpack of German U-boats off Greenland. They sink 18 ships, with the lossof two submarines, U-207 and U-510.

September 10, 1942: Failure of Soviet forces attacking from besiegedLeningrad to break the German lines.

September 10, 1943: Soviet marines supported by naval units of the RedFleet recapture the Black Sea port of Novorossisk.

September 10, 1944: US First Army (Hodges) occupies Luxemburg.

September 11

September 11, 1942: Heavy RAF raid on Duesseldorf.

September 11, 1943: British 8th Army occupies Brindisi in southern Italy.German officers captured by the Red Army form an anti-Hitler association,the “Bund deutscher Offiziere”.

September 11, 1944: British troops advancing in Belgium cross the Dutchborder, while spearheads of the US Third Army (Patton) reach the Germanborder at Trier on the Moselle river.

September 12

September 12, 1939: Beginning of the battle in the Vistula bend near Kutno,the last major engagement of the Polish campaign.

September 12, 1941: German forces in the Kremenchug bridgehead across theDnepr in the Ukraine advance north to aid in the encirclement of Kiev.

September 12, 1943: Mussolini, held prisoner by the Badoglio government onthe Gran Sasso, is rescued by German paratroopers who land in gliders ontop of the mountain. SS major Otto Skorzeny, the leader of the mission,becomes an instant celebrity in Germany.

September 12, 1944: Start of a German-Hungarian counter-offensive towardArad and Temesvar in Hungary. German troops evacuate Rhodes and otherGreek islands in the eastern Mediterranean.

September 13

September 13, 1939: Polish troops trapped in the Radom pocket surrender(60,000 prisoners).

September 13, 1940: Italilian forces in Cyrenaica under Marshal Grazianiadvance toward Sidi Barrani in Egypt.

September 13, 1943: Beginning of a German counterattack against the USFifth Army’s (Clark) bridgehead at Salerno.

September 13, 1944: The Red Army captures the Warsaw suburb of Praha onthe east bank of the Vistula.

September 14

September 14, 1941: Heeresgruppe Mitte completes the encirclement of twoSoviet armies at Kiev. In North Africa, British naval forces fail intheir attempt to achieve a landing at Tobruk.

September 14, 1942: At Stalingrad, counterattacks by the Soviet 62nd Army(Chuikov) fail to stop LI. Armeekorps’s (von Seydlitz) advance toward theStalingrad inner city and the Central Station.

September 14, 1943: British troops occupy the Greek island of Leros in theMediterranean.

September 14, 1944: In Estonia and Latvia, the Red Army begins anoffensive against Heeresgruppe Nord which is forced to fall back todefensive positions around Riga.

September 15

September 15, 1939: Gdynia is captured by German forces. Polish breakoutattempts from the Kutno pocket are unsuccessful.

September 15, 1940: Climax of the Luftwaffe daylight raids against theLondon docks (later designated Battle of Britain Day). British fighteraircraft destroy almost one quarter (57) of the attacking German bomberforce.

September 15, 1941: The US Navy begins to take over the convoying ofBritish ships as far as Iceland, seen as an unneutral act by the Germangovernment.

September 15, 1942: Fierce fighting between German and Soviet forces forpossession of Mamayev Kurgan, the strategic hill overlookingStalingrad.

September 15, 1944: On the Northern front, the Soviets achieve abreakthrough at Narva. The US First Army (Hodges) occupies Nancy.

September 16

September 16, 1943: German counterattacks against the US bridgehead atSalerno are halted.

September 16, 1944: Conclusion of the Quebec meeting between Roosevelt andChurchill who sign off on the Morgenthau Plan for the treatment of postwarGermany. In response, Dr. Goebbels exhorts all Germans to resist withthe utmost fanaticism.

September 17

September 17, 1939: In Poland, Kutno and Brest-Litovsk are captured byGerman troops. The Red Army invades eastern Poland. The Polish governmentseeks asylum in Rumania and is interned.

September 17, 1941: The US allocates $100,000,000 to the Soviet Unionfor the purchase of war materials.

September 17, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Brjansk. In Italy, theBritish 8th Army joins forces with US troops in the Salernobridgehead.

September 17, 1944: Start of Operation Market-Garden: British airborneforces land at Arnhem and Nijmegen in Holland to capture the vital Rhinebridges.

September 18

September 18, 1939: U-29 (Kapitanleutnant Schuhart) sinks the Britishaircraft carrier Courageous.

September 18, 1941: Units of Heeresgruppe Süd capture Poltava in theUkraine.

September 19

September 19, 1939: Conclusion of the battle in the Vistula bend, with theWehrmacht taking 170,000 prisoners.

September 19, 1941: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte capture Kiev.

September 19, 1944: British paratroop forces dropped at Arnhem encounterunexpected heavy German resistance.

September 20

September 20, 1939: German troops in eastern Poland withdraw to the lineagreed upon in the German-Soviet treaty of August 26, 1939. The Red Armymoves in behind them to occupy the formerly Russian territory.

September 20, 1943: Heeresgruppe Süd begins its withdrawal to theMelitopol-Zaporoshe line. The British 8th Army occupies Bari insouthern Italy. German troops evacuate the island of Sardinia.

September 21

September 21, 1939: The remaining parts of the Polish Southern Armysurrender at Zamosz and Tomaszov (60,000 prisoners).

September 21, 1942: RAF raids on Munich and the Saar valley.

September 21, 1943: The Red Army forces a crossing of the Dnepr atDnepropetrovsk, breaking into the German defensive lines of thePanther-Stellung.

September 21, 1944: In Italy, the British 8th Army captures Rimini.German forces of Heeresgruppe E evacuate the Peloponnes peninsula inGreece.

September 22

September 22, 1939: Polish forces fighting the invading Red Armysurrender at Lvov (217,000 prisoners). The NKVD begins rounding upthousands of Polish officers and deporting them to Russia where they willbe liquidated a year later in the forest of Katyn near Smolensk.

September 22, 1942: At Stalingrad, units of the 6th Army (von Paulus) anf4th Panzerarmee (Hoth) split the Soviet 62nd Army (Yeremenko) in two andcapture nearly the entire southern part of the city, including the hugegrain elevator defended by Soviet marines.

September 22, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Reval in Estonia. In theWest, German troops holding out in the port city of Boulogne finallysurrender to British forces.

September 23

September 23, 1942: At Stalingrad, Soviet counterattacks to dislodgeGerman advance units near the Volga landing stage are unsuccessful. InNorth Africa, Field Marshal Rommel takes a medical leave and hands overcommand of the Afrikakorps to General von Thoma. Wendell Willkie, 1940Republican presidential candidate, confers with Stalin and calls for asecond front at the earliest possible moment.

September 23, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Poltava in the Ukraine.

September 24

September 24, 1941: Heeresgruppe Süd begins an offensive against thevital land bridge to the Crimea at Perekop.

September 24, 1942: General Halder is forced to resign as chief of staffof OKH by Hitler and is replaced by General Zeitzler. In the Caucasus,units of Heeresgruppe A (List) launch an attack against the Black Seaport of Tuapse.

September 24, 1944: British naval units begin operations againstGerman-occupied islands in the Aegean Sea in the easternMediterranean.

September 25

September 25, 1940: An attack by Free French forces landed by ships ofthe Royal Navy against the west African port of Dakar is repulsed byVichy troops.

September 25, 1941: Hitler orders all attacks by Heeresgruppe Nord (vonLeeb) on Leningrad stopped; the city is to be besieged and starved-out,and after its eventual surrender, levelled to the ground.

September 25, 1943: Soviet forces succeed in establishing a bridgeheadacross the Dnepr at Dnepropetrovsk.

September 26

September 26, 1941: The Free French government in London under General deGaulle signs an alliance with the Soviet Union.

September 26, 1944: In Holland, Operation Market-Garden ends in failure,with heavy losses to the British airborne forces engaged. At Arnhem,6,450 survivors surrender and are taken prisoner.

September 27

September 27, 1939: Warsaw, besieged for more than two weeks, surrendersafter continuous air and artillery bombardments.

September 27, 1942: At Stalingrad, units of 6.Armee succeed in capturingmost of the strategic Mamayev Kurgan hill, and penetrating the heavilydefended Red October and Barricades housing estates.

September 27, 1943: General withdrawal of all German forces in the Ukraineto positions on the west bank of the Dnepr river.

September 27, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe E evacuate westernGreece.

September 28

September 28, 1939: German and Soviet troops meet at Brest-Litovsk, andtogether stage a military review. An agreement is signed delineating theircommon border lines in eastern Poland.

September 28, 1944: Start of a Soviet offensive from western Bulgaria andRumania toward Belgrade.

September 29

September 29, 1939: Polish forces defending the fortress of Modlinsurrender (35,000 prisoners).

September 29, 1941: The attacks by Heeresgruppe Süd (von Rundstedt)to force an entry into the Crimea are halted.

September 30

September 30, 1941: Armored forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) launchan attack to capture Orel.

September 30, 1942: Top-scoring Luftwaffe ace and Diamonds winnerHans-Joachim Marseille (158 British aircraft) of 3./JG 27 is killed by anaccident in North Africa.