April 1943

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The following events occurred in April 1943:

April 1, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

  • SIGSALY, referred to as the X System vocoder or "Green Hornet", went into operation for use in secure phone conversations between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The new system, developed by AT&T's Bell Labs, encrypted speech into electronic signals that could be transmitted at the rate of 1,551 bits per second, and decrypted it at the other end, permitting the two wartime leaders to talk to each other without being understood by wiretappers.[1] The terminals for transatlantic calls were at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and in the basement of Selfridges department store in London.
  • In the Second Battle of Sedjenane, Allied forces retook the Tunisian town of Sedjenane on the railway line to Mateur and the port of Bizerta.
  • Japanese forces launched Operation I-Go, an aerial counter-offensive in the Pacific.
  • The Royal Air Force marked its 25th anniversary by presenting Churchill with honorary wings. "I am honoured to be accorded a place, albeit out of kindness, in that comradeship of the air which guards the life of our island and carries doom to tyrants, whether they flaunt themselves or burrow deep," Churchill stated.[2]
  • The Italian destroyer Lubiana was either sunk or stranded off the Tunisian coast and declared a total constructive loss.

April 2, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

  • On a visit to Germany, King Boris III of Bulgaria told German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that the 25,000 Jews in Bulgaria would not be turned over to German control, despite the alliance between the two Axis powers. At most, the King said, the Bulgarian government might intern its Jewish citizens in camps under Bulgarian control.[3]
  • The German submarine U-124 was shelled and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean west of Oporto, Portugal by British warships.
  • Born: Larry Coryell, American jazz fusion guitarist, in Galveston, Texas (d. 2017)

April 3, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

  • A riot in Wellington, New Zealand between American servicemen and New Zealand servicemen and civilians known as the Battle of Manners Street occurred when some of the American servicemen refused to allow Māori soldiers from entering the Allied Services Club. Dozens of people were injured but news of the riot was censored at the time.
  • Shipwrecked steward Poon Lim was rescued by Brazilian fishermen after being adrift for 131 days as the sole survivor of a British merchant ship, the Ben Lomond, which had been torpedoed on November 29, 1942.[4]
  • Born: Richard Manuel, Canadian born pop musician for The Band; in Stratford, Ontario (committed suicide 1986)
  • Died: Conrad Veidt, 50, German-born film actor known for (Casablanca)

April 4, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Lady Be Good, an American B-24 bomber became lost over the North African desert after completing a bombing raid in Italy, ran out of gas, and crashed after its crew parachuted to safety. The nine member crew died of thirst, one by one, over the next eight days. For nearly 16 years, Lady Be Good would remain missing until its discovery on February 27, 1959. The bodies of the men would be found almost a year after that, on February 11, 1960.[5]
  • William Dyess was able to escape from a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Philippines along with nine other men, and to make his way through the jungle and to a ship that transported him to Australia. Once free, Dyess would be able to reveal to the world the atrocities of the Bataan Death March that had taken place after U.S. and Philippine forces surrendered on April 9, 1942.[6]
  • An American B-25 bomber on a training mission went down in Lake Murray in South Carolina. The entire crew was rescued by a boater on the lake, but the B-25 sank to the bottom of the lake for the next 62 years, finally being raised on September 19, 2005 in nearly perfect condition.[7]
  • German radio announced that three former French leaders had been removed to Germany in order to stop "establishment of a countergovernment". Former Prime Ministers Édouard Daladier and Léon Blum, along with the former French Army commander in chief, General Maurice Gamelin, were reportedly placed in an undisclosed German prison.[8]
  • Born: Mike Epstein, American MLB baseball player nicknamed "SuperJew"; in the Bronx
  • Died: Raoul Laparra, 67, French composer of the opera La Habanera; in an American air raid on Paris

April 5, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

  • Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested at the headquarters of the German military intelligence (the Abwehr) by the Nazi secret police (the Gestapo) along with lawyer Hans von Dohnanyi, and both were found to have incriminating materials in their possession, showing cooperation with the enemy in Britain.[9] Adolf Hitler would order the execution of Bonhoeffer, Dohnanyi, and the Abwehr director, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, on April 9, 1945, less than a month before the conquest of Germany.
  • The German submarine U-635 was sunk in the North Atlantic by a B-24 of No. 120 Squadron RAF.
  • The Japanese submarine Ro-34 was sunk off the Russell Islands by American destroyers O'Bannon and Strong.
  • Born: Max Gail, American television actor who portrayed Wojo Wojciehowicz, on Barney Miller; in Detroit

April 6, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Battle of Wadi Akarit began in Tunisia.
  • The German submarine U-632 was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by a B-24 of No. 86 Squadron RAF.
  • The Little Prince, a children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was published. Saint-Exupéry would join the French Army later in the month, and would disappear the next year after his airplane was shot down in combat.[10]
  • Five members of the U.S. Army Air Forces were rescued after having been marooned on an icecap in Greenland for almost five months. The men had been on a B-17 bomber that made a crash landing while searching for another lost plane, but were kept alive with supplies dropped by Colonel Bernt Balchen, an Arctic explorer and aviator.[11]

April 7, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini began a four-day meeting at Schloss Klessheim near Salzburg. Mussolini was in poor health and would spend most of the conference listening silently to Hitler's long rambling monologues; an attempt by Mussolini to bring up the possibility of making peace with the Soviets was swiftly rebuffed.[12]
  • The British government published a plan drawn up by John Maynard Keynes for a postwar economy. The plan proposed an international monetary fund which could help any nation out of temporary financial difficulties. In return, that country would have to adopt policies aimed at restoring stability.[13]
  • The Battle of Wadi Akarit ended in Allied victory.
  • The American destroyer Aaron Ward was bombed and sunk in Ironbottom Sound by Japanese aircraft.
  • The German submarine U-644 was torpedoed and sunk in the Norwegian Sea by the British submarine Tuna.
  • Bolivia declared war against the Axis powers, becoming the 33rd nation to enter World War II on the side of the Allies.[14]
  • Died: Alexandre Millerand, 84, President of France 1920–1924

April 8, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

April 9, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

April 10, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

April 11, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

April 12, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

  • Martin Bormann was appointed as Secretary to the Führer, the second highest office in Nazi Germany.[22]
  • The British War Office made its first report on the intelligence gathered concerning Germany's missile program, with the title "German Long-Range Rocket Development".[23]
  • Eight days after he and his crewmates were lost in the Libyan desert in the crash of Lady Be Good, co-pilot Robert Toner wrote the last entry in his journal: "No help yet, very cold nite". The diary, and Toner's body, would be found nearly 17 years later.[24]
  • On Budget Day in the United Kingdom, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Kingsley Wood announced that the war had cost Britain a total of £13 billion to date and was costing £15 million per day. In the new financial year excess expenditure over revenue was estimated at £2,848,614,000.[25]

April 13, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

April 14, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The Commander of the 8th Japanese fleet broadcast a coded message concerning a tour of the fleet by the Naval Commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto to begin on April 18, probably in the high security code JN25 which Allied cryptanalysts had broken.[29][30][31]
  • U.S. Senator Harry S. Truman of Missouri appeared as a speaker in Chicago at the "United Rally to Demand the Rescue of Doomed Jews", calling for the United States to respond directly to the Holocaust.[32]
  • The Soviet Union reorganized its intelligence gathering system, setting up the People's Commissariat for State Security (NKGB, later the MGB) as a separate agency from the NKVD (later the KGB). Lavrentiy Beria remained in control of the NKVD, while Beria's assistant, Vsevolod Merkulov was named as the Director of the NKGB.[33] Both Beria and Merkulov, along with four other Beria loyalists, would be executed on December 23, 1953, nine months after the death of Joseph Stalin.
  • The German submarine U-526 struck a mine and sank in the Bay of Biscay.
  • Four inmates of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary attempted to escape from the prison, making it to the water when the tower guards opened fire on them. Two were killed and one hid until he was found three days later, but the body of the fourth, James Boarman, was never found.[34]

April 15, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The U.S. Army established its first overseas "V-Mail" station in order to use the "Victory Mail" process to get letters to and from servicemen. The facility, based in Casablanca, Morocco, used the process of photographing, on microfilm, pre-screened letters to the United States so that mail could be transported to the U.S. with a minimum of space. V-Mail letters from the U.S. to servicemen were also put on microfilm, and enlarged prior to delivery.[35]
  • The State Bank of Ethiopia was created as the new central bank in the African nation, which had recently been liberated from Italian control. The State Bank also had the authority to print banknotes and mint coins. It would be replaced in 1964 by the National Bank of Ethiopia.[36]
  • The Fountainhead, a novel by Ayn Rand, was released by Bobbs-Merrill and would go on to become her first bestseller.[37]
  • The Sino-American Special Technical Cooperative Agreement was signed between the United States and the Republic of China, creating the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO).[38]
  • The Italian submarine Archimede was sunk off Brazil by an American Consolidated PBY Catalina.

April 16, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

April 17, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The United States War Manpower Commission, headed by Paul V. McNutt, issued an order that prevented 27,000,000 civilian employees from changing jobs. Basically, an employee in an "essential activity" could not be hired to a job that was not essential to the war effort, unless he or she remained unemployed for at least 30 days. Likewise, a vital employer could not offer a higher wage rate to lure a worker from another vital employer without 30 days between jobs. Business owners and employees who violated the regulation were subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per violation and a year in prison. The manpower "freeze" was to remain in effect until the end of the war.[40]
  • A fleet of 117 B-17 bombers of the U.S. Eighth Army Air Force raided Bremen.[15]
  • At a meeting in Salzburg with German Führer Adolf Hitler and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, Admiral Miklós Horthy, the Regent and Head of State for the Kingdom of Hungary, refused a personal request by Germany to deliver 800,000 Hungarian Jews to the Nazis, despite the alliance between the two as Axis powers.[3]
  • The German submarine U-175 was depth charged and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by the American coast guard cutter Spencer.
  • Luftwaffe dive bombers raided the North African port of Algiers. Fifteen Catholic Religious Sisters perished at their prayers as the bombs demolished an orphanage. The fifteen who died and three sisters who were severely wounded remained behind to pray when the raid started while other sisters led sixty orphans from the building to the safety of an air raid shelter. Among the victims was Mother Superior Marie Duval, who had been at the convent for 31 years. General Henri Honore Giraud, civil and military commander-in-chief of French North and West Africa, awarded Duval the French Legion of Honor posthumously, stating: "On April 17, 1943, she was a victim of German barbarism, as were fourteen of her sisters."[41]

April 18, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

April 19, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

April 20, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

April 21, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The bombing of Aberdeen killed 98 civilians and 27 servicemen. The attack was the worst of 34 separate German air raids on the Scottish city.[49]
  • Admiral Mineichi Koga became the new Commander of the Japanese Navy, succeeding the late Admiral Yamamoto.[50]
  • The RAF marked Hitler's 54th birthday by bombing Berlin and three other cities.[13] Hitler himself passed the day quietly at the Berghof.[51]
  • Captain Frederick M. Trapnell became the first U.S. Navy aviator to fly a jet airplane, when he took up the Bell P-59 from the Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) in California. Colonel Laurence C. Craigie of the U.S. Army had flown the P-59 on October 2, 1942.[52]
  • The American submarine Grenadier was bombed by Japanese aircraft in the Strait of Malacca and scuttled the next day.
  • The British submarine Splendid was shelled and damaged off Corsica by German destroyer Hermes and was scuttled to prevent capture.

April 22, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

April 23, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

April 24, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responded to a fire on the munitions ship El Estero that threatened to destroy the port. The ship had been loading torpedoes at a pier used by the U.S. Army, caught fire, and began drifting after burning through the lines that tied it to the dock. The FDNY fireboat, Fire Fighter spent seven harrowing hours towing the ship away and then inundating with enough water to sink it. An explosion of the ship could have set off a chain reaction that would have blown up other ammunition ships, tanks of natural gas, gasoline and oil on the shore, and "the largest ammunition dump in the U.S.", located on the New Jersey shore. Twelve years later, an author would describe the event as "the night New York City almost blew up".[55]
  • The British submarine Sahib was scuttled after being depth charged and damaged off Capo di Milazzo, Sicily by a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88.
  • The German submarine U-710 was sunk in the North Atlantic by a B-17 of No. 206 Squadron RAF.
  • Died:

April 25, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

April 26, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

April 27, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Battle of Hill 609 began between American and German forces in Tunisia.
  • Because of German labor needs occasioned by World War II, Heinrich Himmler directed concentration camps to avoid killing those persons who were able to work, and to make it a priority to put to death "the mentally ill who could not work".[57]
  • The German submarine U-174 was depth charged and sunk south of Newfoundland by an American Lockheed Ventura.

April 28, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

April 29, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The American freighter SS McKeesport was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine, leading to a sea battle that continued over the next several weeks, during which 47 German U-boats were sunk.[59]
  • The German submarine U-332 was depth charged and sunk in the Bay of Biscay by a B-23 of No. 224 Squadron RAF.
  • Died: Canadian soldier August Sangret, 29, was hanged in London's Wandsworth Prison, after being convicted of killing his girlfriend Joan Wolfe, in what was called "The Wigwam Murder".[60]

April 30, 1943 (Friday)[edit]


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  2. ^ Churchill, Winston (2013). Onwards to Victory. RosettaBooks. ISBN 978-0-7953-3169-5.
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  4. ^ "Chinese Steward Used Bent Nail To Fish During 131 Days Adrift", Gallup (NM) Independent, May 25, 1943, p1; "Torpedo Victim Spends 131 Days Alone on a Raft", Milwaukee Journal, May 25, 1943, p3
  5. ^ Mario Martinez, Lady's Men: The Story of World War Ii's Mystery Bomber and Her Crew (Naval Institute Press, 1999); "Bodies of War Plane Crew Discovered in African Desert", Oakland Tribune, February 13, 1960, p1
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