Year 1944

War Diary for the year 1944 in WW2.

D-Day

US tank landing ships (LSTs) disgorge the fully panoply of Allied might onto the Normandy beaches.

At the beginning of 1944 the strategic ring around Germany was closed since a long time. The final victory over Soviet Russia had become quite illusory, and it was rather in the Ukraine, now near the Romanian and Polish frontier, and in front of Leningrad in the Baltic States, that the eastern cheek of the pincers was increasingly concentrated on the center of the ‘Fortress Europe‘.

The ‘Fortress Europe’ was originally a creation of Propaganda minister Goebbels, who wanted to gain something positive from the strategic ring, which surrounded the Axis powers, and wanted to give the people a feeling of security. But already this picture revealed the weakness of the Axis powers: How can one defeat an enemy from a besieged fortress? On the other hand, the latter only needs to break the fortress at one point, and the defeat is only a question of time.

This ‘Fortress Europe’ had a ‘wall’, which was about 9,000 miles long. In this way it could hardly be defended against all basic strategic principles. The enemy had only to knock at weak points and the wall would break in there and forces would have to be thrown from one corner of the threatened fortress into the other. This leads to the comparison with a ‘mill’ game.
The ‘Fortress Europe’ had no roof over it either. Therefore, the advantage of the ‘inner line’ was limited by the lack of reserves, threatened connecting lines, and permanently attacked, vital production centers.

Also, holding a fortress also requires the unity of the besieged. This ended at the latest with the arrest of Mussolini and the capitulation of Italy. In the course of 1944 practically all other allies of Hitler followed.

At the beginning of 1944, the Red Army resumed its advance along the entire Eastern Front from Lapland to the Balkans. First, the Crimea, which had been cut off from all land connections since November 1943, had to be evacuated after a long period of resistance from Hitler in front of a Russian assault.
In Finland the Karelian Isthmus and Petsamo were attacked in the north by the Russians. This forced the Finns to leave the war and the retreat of the German Mountain Army from Lapland to northern Norway.

In the spring of 1944 the defenses of the Luftwaffe against the American day-raid attacks of the B-17 Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers finally broke down when the P-51 Mustang escort fighters with auxiliary tanks secured the bombers to all destinations in Germany controlled Europe. When the Americans were still concentrating their strategic bombing raids on the German fuel and synthetic industry, the Wehrmacht became literally ‘out of fuel’.

The divisions of the Red Army were already on the borders of Slovakia, Romania and Poland, when the Allied invasion of Normandy took place on 6 June 1944. The D-Day is carried out under the protection of overwhelming sea and air forces and is successful. And as Rommel predicted, the enemy can not be defeated once he has landed on land.
To this end, it would scarcely have been necessary to make a second landing in the south of France on August 13, 1944.

In the meantime, the German Army Group Center in Russia had to defend a long and bloated front section in Belarus since the setbacks in the Ukraine from winter and spring. As a result it was completely destroyed by the summer offensive of the Red Army on the third anniversary of the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The losses of the Wehrmacht exceeded by far the Stalingrad victims.
The Russians pushed forward as far as the Vistula and the East Prussian frontier, so that the defeat could no longer be concealed and treason was advanced. In the course of this, the Warsaw uprising took place from the Polish Home Army, whose support Stalin denied, since he had other plans for Poland.

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A rebellion of some generals and officers on July 20, 1944, and the planed assassination of Colonel von Stauffenberg to Hitler was then the last attempt from Germany to avert the looming catastrophe. The assassination failed, Hitler survived, and took a terrible revenge against any remaining opposition. Now the Second World War was led to the utmost consequence by the Nazi regime.

By the Russian advance to the Vistula, the German Army Group North was also cut off in the Baltic States, which could no longer retreat to East Prussia due to the refusal of Hitler. Thus, the mass of their units remained in the so-called ‘Kurlandkessel‘ until the end of the war – and for the general strategic situation meaningless.

In Romania the dictator Antonescu was overthrown and dismissed in August, while the Red Army overwhelmed this Balkan country. Again, nearly a complete German army was encircled in Moldova and was captured.

In the meantime the American, British, and Canadian troops broke out of their bridgehead in Normandy, quickly capturing France, reaching the German border near Aachen in October. It was true that the allied air landing at Arnhem, which was supposed ‘to end the war before Christmas’, failed, but the Allied bomber offensive systematically destroyed the German transport and communications network as well as production centers. These terror attacks on the German cities already announced the near end of the war, and under this impression, Romania, Finland, Bulgaria, and Hungary successively rotate opposed to the German Reich.

Hitler, however, still wanted to force the impossible, and created the Volkssturm (Home Guard), for which the ‘last squad’ of children and old men were sent to the approaching fronts.
The surprising Ardennes offensive (Battle of the Bulge) on 16 December 1944 was then Hitler’s last trump. Despite a larger initial success, however, this card was also practically played out after four days and Hitler’s ‘game for the World Rule’ was finally lost.


Diary May 19, 1944

Bofors AA Monte Cassino

WW2 War Diary for Friday, May 19, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: British armour and infantry overrun Aquino airfield, in Liri Valley; German anti-tank guns repulse attempted seizure of Aquino town. Americans capture Gaeta. Sea War Pacific: 6 Japanese submarines sunk by… learn more

Diary May 18, 1944

Polish soldiers occupy Monte Cassino

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, May 18, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: Poles occupy ‘Monastery Hill’ at Cassino. Politics UK and USSR agree that Rumania will be in Soviet sphere of influence; Greece in British sphere. Neutrals Turkey: Martial law declared after… learn more

Diary May 17, 1944

German paratrooper armed with the early 'E-Type' FG42 assault rifle

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, May 17, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: Kesselring orders evacuation of Cassino garrison. Sea War Indian Ocean: Carriers HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga launch combined 85-plane strike against Surabaya. North Sea: 32 German E-boats lay mines off… learn more

Diary May 16, 1944

Mosquito vs U-boat

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, May 16, 1944: Sea War Atlantic: Coastal Command planes sink 5 U-boats off Norway; 3 others seriously damaged (May 16-31). Air War Eastern Front: Russians bomb Minsk railway junction. Politics Allies sign agreements with Belgium,… learn more

Diary May 15, 1944

MG34 mounted on its tripod with long range sights for sustained fire role

WW2 War Diary for Monday, May 15, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: Germans begin withdrawing from ‘Gustav’ Line to ‘Adolf Hitler‘ (‘Dora’) Line, immediately south of Rome. Home Front USSR: Death of Patriarch Sergei, Head of Government-approved Russian Orthodox Church; aged 77. learn more

Diary May 14, 1944

Algiers on 14 May 1944

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, May 14, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: French break through at Monti Aurunci, north of Gaeta. Air War Britain: Night raid on Bristol and Southwest England by 91 planes (15 lost). learn more

Diary May 13, 1944

iberated Sebastopol

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, May 13, 1944: Eastern Front Southern sector: German and Axis forces completely ousted from the Crimea, leaving behind 78,000 dead or prisoners. Mediterranean Italy: French Expeditionary Corps (5th Army) penetrates Gustav Line; captures Monte Majo… learn more

Diary May 12, 1944

Me 110 hit by US fighter

WW2 War Diary for Friday, May 12, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: Germans launch fierce counter-attacks along Gustav Line. Air War Germany: 800 US 8th Air Force bombers (46 lost), with heavy fighter escort (10 lost), attack synthetic oil plants at Leuna-Merseburg… learn more

Diary May 11, 1944

troops of the Polish 2nd Corps at Cassino

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, May 11, 1944: Mediterranean Italy: 5th US AND BRITISH 8th ARMIES ATTACK GUSTAV LINE (Operation Diadem) on 48-km front, supported by MAAF (2,750 sorties) and thousands of guns. During the previous 8 weeks British 8th… learn more

Diary May 10, 1944

Chinese Nationalist unit in full battle gear

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, May 10, 1944: Far East China: Chinese cross river Salween, near Burmese border, on broad front. Occupied Territories France: FFI (Free French Forces of Interior) now total 175,000. learn more

Diary May 9, 1944

capture of Sebastopol

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, May 9, 1944: Eastern Front Southern Sector: SEBASTOPOL CAPTURED BY RUSSIANS after 3 days’ heavy fighting. Air War Western Europe: Allied Air Forces begin large scale raids on air bases in France in preparation for… learn more

Diary May 8, 1944

tanks prepared for invasion

WW2 War Diary for Monday, May 8, 1944: Western Front Britain: Eisenhower selects June 5 as ‘D-Day’ for Normandy invasion. Sea War Black Sea: Second phase evacuation of Axis forces from Crimea (May 8-13); Soviet forces sink 19 vessels (8,100… learn more

Diary May 7, 1944

B-26 Marauders attacking railway yards.

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, May 7, 1944: Air War Europe: US 8th Air Force despatches 1,500 planes to Berlin. US 9th Air Force B-26 Marauders and P-38 Lightnings attack Mezieres-Charleville railway yards. US 15th Air Force and RAF bombers… learn more

Diary May 6, 1944

Mitsubishi A7M2 Reppu

WW2 War Diary for Saturday, May 6, 1944: Home Front Japan: First flight of Mitsubishi A7M Reppu (designed to replace the Mitsubishi A6M5 Reisen and Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero). Technical problems, an earthquake in December and Allied bombing raids prevent mass… learn more

Diary May 5, 1944

A section of British soldiers of Slim's 14th Army in Burma

WW2 War Diary for Friday, May 5, 1944: Southeast Asia Burma: Slim’s 14th Army counter-attacks near Imphal. Air War Mediterranean: Torre Dam in Italy dive-bombed and smashed by RAF P-51 Mustangs and Australian and South African P-40 Warhawks. learn more

Diary May 4, 1944

crew of a Stirling bomber

WW2 War Diary for Thursday, May 4, 1944: Air War Eastern Europe: RAF night raid on Budapest rail installations. learn more

Diary May 3, 1944

remains of a shot-down Halifax bomber

WW2 War Diary for Wednesday, May 3, 1944: Air War Western Europe: 49 RAF bombers lost during night raids on tank-truck park at Mailly, near Rheims; Montdidier aircraft stores; ammunition dump at Chateaudun; and Ludwigshafen. Southeast Asia Burma: British 14th… learn more

Diary May 2, 1944

Vichy police vs strikers

WW2 War Diary for Tuesday, May 2, 1944: Occupied Territories France: Management of Aubert and Duval steel works at Ancizes co-operates with Resistance in complete shut-down. Politics Spain: Anglo-US-Spanish agreement on restriction of wolfram (tungsten ore) exports from Spain to… learn more

Diary May 1, 1944

T-34 M44 (85-mm gun) on railway wagons

WW2 War Diary for Monday, May 1, 1944: Eastern Front Central Sector: Zhukov and Vasilevsky begin detailed planning for decisive summer offensive against the ‘Byelorussian Salient’, lying between Smolensk and Minsk. Germans are to be misled into expecting the blow… learn more

Diary April 30, 1944

General Kreipe kidnapped

WW2 War Diary for Sunday, April 30, 1944: Secret War Greece: General Kreipe (commander of ‘Fortress Crete’) kidnapped by Partisans (leaded by British Commandos) in Crete and taken by British submarine to Alexandria. Air War Western Europe: Avro Lancaster bombers… learn more