August 1943

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August 1, 1943: American B-24s carry out first bombing of German oil production
August 31, 1943: The U.S. Navy Hellcat enters the war
August 2, 1943: Jewish inmates fight back against the Nazis at Treblinka
August 17, 1943: Roosevelt, Churchill and King reach secret atomic bomb agreement at Quebec

The following events occurred in August 1943:

August 1, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Operation Tidal Wave began as a group of 177 American B-24 Liberator bombers, with 1,726 total crew, departed from Libya to make the first bombing of the oil refineries at Ploieşti, Romania, the major supplier of fuel to Germany. The mission temporarily halted oil production, but 532 airmen and 54 of the planes were lost. After a 40% loss of production, the refineries would be repaired more quickly than projected.[1] Germany's Radio Reconnaissance Service had intercepted and decrypted the Allied messages about the raid and the departure from Libya, and anti-aircraft defenses were in place despite the low-level approach of the bombers.[2]
Flag of the "independent" State of Burma
  • Japan granted "independence" to Burma, which had been a British colony at the time of its invasion and occupation by the Japanese Army. Ba Maw was installed as the head of state, (designated the Adipadi), although the commander of the Japanese Army forces in Burma, Lieutenant-General Kawabe Masakazu, would continue to oversee Burma's politics, economy, and foreign relations.[3]
  • Rioting broke out in Harlem, the mostly African-American section of New York City, after a white NYPD officer, James Collins, shot a black soldier, Private Robert Bandy, in the shoulder during a scuffle.[4] When an ambulance took the Bandy to a hospital, a false rumor spread that the soldier had been killed, and a mob began smashing the windows of pawn shops, liquor stores and other white-owned Harlem businesses. The riot was finally suppressed by black and white NYPD officers, state national guardsmen, and military policemen, along with an appeal from Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia for peace and a delivery of food supplies to Harlem residents. When the riot ended, six African-Americans had died, and more than 500 arrested, while 40 officers had been injured.[5]
  • William D. Becker, the Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, was killed along with nine other people while riding as an honored guest in a new cargo-carrying glider airplane at an airshow at the city's Lambert Field airport. A crowd of 10,000 watched in horror as the wings of the glider buckled as it descended to 2,000 feet, then plummeted to the ground. Killed also were Major William B. Robertson, President of the Robertson Aircraft Corporation, which had built the glider; St. Louis County Judge Executive Henry Mueller; and Thomas Dysart, President of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.[6]
  • The German submarines U-383 and U-454 were both depth charged and sunk in the Bay of Biscay by Allied aircraft.
  • Died:
    • The Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek, eleven Roman Catholic nuns led by Mother Superior Maria Stella Mardosewicz, were executed by a Nazi firing squad in German-occupied Poland, after volunteering to take the place of local men who had been scheduled for execution. The eleven would be beatified by the Church in 2000.[7]
    • Lydia Litvyak, 21, Soviet fighter ace who shot down at least 11 German airplanes. She is one of two women who were "aces", the other being Yekaterina Budanova, who died on July 19. Litvyak's remains would be found in 1979, and she would be posthumously awarded the medal of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1990.[8]

August 2, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

  • Jewish inmates at the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland seized weapons from the camp's armory and made plans to take over the concentration camp from their captors. The theft was discovered before the inmates had enough to completely overpower the guards, but hundreds charged through the main gate, and 300 managed to escape.[9] A few guards were killed, and the rebels set several buildings ablaze, though most of the escapees were hunted down and killed, with no more than 40 surviving.[10][11]
Kennedy (right) and the crew of PT-109
  • At 2:00 am local time, the U.S. Navy patrol torpedo boat PT-109, with a crew of 13 commanded by Lieutenant (j.g.) John F. Kennedy, was traveling through the Blackett Strait in the Solomon Islands, when it was rammed and sunk by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. Though two of the crew were killed, Kennedy and the other ten men swam three miles to a small island that turned out to be uninhabited. Kennedy and Ensign George H. R. Ross would make their way to Nauru and found natives who delivered a message, that Kennedy had carved on a coconut, to the PT base at Rendova Island. The PT-109 survivors were rescued on August 8, and Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism.[12]
  • Soviet partisan fighters began using a new weapon, land mines made of plastic, to fight the German occupiers. Reportedly, the partisans placed 8,422 of the mines along railway tracks in the Belarusian SSR.[13]
  • The German submarine U-106 was depth charged and sunk northwest of Cape Ortegal, Spain by Short Sunderland aircraft of No. 228 Squadron RAF.
  • Born: Max Wright, American TV actor who portrayed Willie Tanner on ALF; in Detroit

August 3, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Operation Rumyantsev began as the Soviet Army started an offensive against the German XI Corps to recapture Kharkov.[14]
  • The Mirgorod direction offensive began.
  • The U.S. state of Georgia lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18, becoming the first state in the union to grant 18-year-olds the right to vote. The amendment to the state constitution was one of 28 that was approved in a referendum.[15]
General Patton
  • General George S. Patton was visiting the 15th Evacuation Hospital in Nicosia, Cyprus, when he encountered Private Charles H. Kuhl, who was in the hospital for malaria and dysentery as well as for shell shock. Patton asked Private Kuhl what he was in for, and Kuhl replied, "I guess I just can't take it." Patton lost his temper and struck Kuhl with his gloves. On August 10, Patton would strike another soldier, and the incidents became public knowledge.[16]
  • The German submarines U-335, U-572 and U-706 were all lost to enemy action.
  • Born:

August 4, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his cabinet ministers made what one commentator would call " one of his most important but least known decisions", electing not to ship British wheat to the colony in India, "thereby condemning hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions, of people to death by starvation". At the time, there was a famine in the Bengal province (now Bangladesh).[17]
  • At the German V-2 rocket plant at Peenemünde, the decision was made to employ concentration camp inmates as slave labor to build the missiles. For every non-Jewish German employee, there would be at least ten camp inmates supplied by the SS.[18]
  • The Battle of Munda Point ended in U.S. victory.
  • The German submarine U-489 was depth charged and sunk in the North Atlantic by a Consolidated PBY Catalina of No. 423 Squadron RCAF.
  • In the port of Algiers, the cargo ship Fort La Montee caught fire and exploded. The British destroyer HMS Arrow took heavy damage from the explosion and was later declared a constructive total loss.
  • Born:
    • Bjørn Wirkola, Norwegian ski jumper, and winner of two World Championships in 1966
    • Margaret Lee, British-born actress who became a star in Italian action films such as Se tutte le donne del mondo (released in the U.S. as Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die); as Margaret Gwendolyn Box, in Wolverhampton

August 5, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

August 6, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Battle of Vella Gulf was fought over the night of August 6–7. The result was a U.S. victory as the Japanese destroyers Arashi, Hagikaze and Kawakaze were all sunk.
  • The Munda Airfield was captured by American forces, giving the United States control of the island of New Georgia.[23]
  • The Battle of Troina ended in Allied victory.
  • The liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, where the Jewish residents of the city of Vilnius (in Lithuania) had been confined, began. The Nazi occupiers of the Soviet Union removed the first 1,000 of the 50,000 Jewish residents, with 20,000 of the adults transported to Estonia to work as slave labor at the concentration camps in Klooga and Lagedi. The Germans encountered resistance during the first deportation, and after killing those who had taken up arms, sent Estonian Jew Herman Kruk to convince residents that the deportation "meant not extermination but work"[24] Kruk himself would die in the Lagedi camp on September 18, 1944.
  • U.S. Army Private Walter J. Bohn, convicted of the January 8 rape of a housewife in Alexandria, Louisiana, was hanged at nearby Camp Claiborne after being found guilty by a military court.[25]

August 7, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The Second Battle of Smolensk began on the Eastern Front.
  • On the first anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. battle in the south Pacific Ocean against Japanese forces, and almost two years to the day before the bombing of Hiroshima, U.S. Navy Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. told a press conference that "We will destroy the enemy. We shall push forward until the Battle of the South Pacific becomes the Battle of Japan."[26]
  • The German submarines U-84, U-117 and U-615 were all lost to enemy action.

August 8, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The United States Army barred the taking of photos at all beach resorts on the Atlantic Ocean, and even painting or sketching beach scenes, as part of defense of the eastern United States. Civilian violators could be barred from the going to the coast, or even subjected to trial in a military court, "for violating or conspiring to violate regulations".[27]
  • U.S. troops landed at St. Agata, Sicily.[28]
  • The German Kriegsmarine battleships Tirpitz and Scharnhorst with nine destroyers bombarded the settlements of Longyearbyen, Barentsburg and Grumant on Spitsbergen.[29]

August 9, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

August 10, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • For the second time in a week, General George S. Patton, Jr., struck a U.S. Army soldier after losing his temper. This time, his encounter was with Private Paul G. Bennet at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in San Stefano, in Sicily. Patton asked Bennet what he was ill with, and Bennet, suffering from shell shock, replied, "It's my nerves... I can't stand the shelling anymore." According to a medical officer who witnessed the attack, General Patton replied, "Your nerves, hell. You're just a God-damned coward, you yellow son of a bitch!" and then slapped him.[16] The second incident was witnessed by a nurse, who told her boyfriend, a U.S. Army Captain in the public affairs detachment for the U.S. Seventh Army, and would make news worldwide when it became public three months later. Although demands would be made by members of Congress for General Patton to be relieved of duty, Patton would instead be reprimanded and would be made to apologize to both soldiers.
  • Born: Ronnie Spector, American vocalist and leader of The Ronettes, as Veronica Yvette Bennett in New York City.

August 11, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

August 12, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

  • German troops evacuated Sicily.[28]
  • In a recorded radio address that was broadcast to the Philippines on the anniversary of the August 12, 1898 occupation by the United States, U.S. President Roosevelt said that "I give the Filipino people my word that the Republic of the Philippines will be established the moment the power of our Japanese enemies is destroyed." Joaquin Elizalde, the Philippines' Resident Commissioner in Washington, told reporters that he concluded that Roosevelt meant that independence would come sooner than the scheduled independence date of July 4, 1946, although that would require an amendment to the Tydings-McDuffie Act.[32] By the time liberation was declared on July 5, 1945, the transition time would be only a year away.
  • Albanian Resistance fighters executed the Kurtës Ambush, inflicting heavy losses on German troops.
  • The Polish resistance movement Armia Krajowa (the "Home Army") carried out Operation Góral. In a midday raid, the resistance men ambushed a truck and recovered around 106 million złotys being transported in Warsaw by the occupying Nazi German authorities.[33] The amount taken was the equivalent in 1943 of USD$33,000,000 .[34]
  • The musical horror film Phantom of the Opera starring Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Claude Rains premiered in Los Angeles.
  • Died: Bobby Peel, 84, British cricketer

August 13, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

  • After two weeks of warnings to Italy from the Allies, that "The respite is over. The bombing of military objectives will resume"[35] air raids resumed. Britain's Royal Air Force dropped tons of incendiary bombs on Milan and Turin in the early morning, as well as making the first bombing run on Berlin since May 21. Shortly after 11:00 am local time, American bombers began an even heavier attack on Rome than the one delivered on July 19, and continued for two hours of precision bombing on the railway yards at San Lorenzo and Vittorio.[36] American Liberator bombers struck German Austria for the first time, targeting the Messerschmitt arms plant at Wiener Neustadt south of Vienna, "demonstrating to a bomb-jittery Germany that virtually no corner of its domain is now beyond the range of Allied aircraft".[37]
  • Died: Jakob Gapp, 46, Austrian Roman Catholic martyr, was executed at the Plötzensee Prison after being convicted of treason against the Nazi regime. He would receive beatification on November 24, 1996 from Pope John Paul II.[38]

August 14, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

  • American Liberator bombers flew a record distance, traveling 2,500 miles from Australia to carry out the first bombing raid on the island of Borneo, striking the Japanese oil reserves at Balikpapan.[39]
  • A day after the second bombing of the Italian capital, Rome was declared an open city by the Italian government, which made the announcement in a radio broadcast by Stetani, the official news agency. Marshal Pietro Badoglio, the Italian Prime Minister confirmed the decision later in the day, offering to remove the city's defenses, under the supervision of the Allies, in exchange for no further bombing.[40]
  • The Battle of Roosevelt Ridge ended in Allied victory.
  • The Battle of Belgorod ended in Soviet victory.
  • Construction was completed on 1,811 mile long Big Inch pipeline, which supplied petroleum directly from the oil fields of East Texas, to the shipping ports of New York City and Philadelphia. The project had started on August 3, 1942.[41]
  • The British submarine Saracen was damaged by depth charges from Italian corvettes off Bastia, Corsica and scuttled to prevent capture.
  • The musical comedy film This Is the Army starring George Murphy, Joan Leslie and Ronald Reagan was released.
  • Born: Néstor Cerpa Cartolini, Peruvian terrorist who led the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement from 1985 until he was killed in a shootout with police; in Lima (d. 1997)

August 15, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

August 16, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Białystok Ghetto Uprising began soon after 10:00 in the morning, the German SS surrounded the Jewish ghetto in the city of Bialystok in German-occupied Poland, to begin deportation of the thousands of residents to concentration camps. As the roundup began, the Jewish underground force took up arms and began fighting back. The battle went on for five days before the Germans were able to suppress the insurrection. Most of the leaders of the revolt committed suicide rather than being captured.[45]
  • Born: Arlene Render, American diplomat, in Cleveland

August 17, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

August 18, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • In Operation Hydra, three waves of Royal Air Force bombers struck Peenemünde. Eight RAF bombers were sent toward Berlin to divert German air defenses.[49] General Jeschonnek shot himself the next day after learning about the damage. p56
  • U.S. President Roosevelt issued an Executive Order directing the cancellation of draft deferments for any striking defense plant employees who failed to comply with War Labor Board orders to return to work.[50]
  • The Battle of Mount Tambu ended in Allied victory.
  • The last of 46,000 Greek people, mostly Jewish, who had been deported from Salonika, arrived at the Auschwitz extermination camp. Deportation had started on March 20, with 18 transports emptying the Italian-controlled city over five months.[51]
  • The German submarine U-403 was depth charged and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by a Vickers Wellington of No. 344 Squadron RAF.
  • Born: Gianni Rivera, Italian footballer and 1969 European Footballer of the Year; in Alessandria

August 19, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Quadrant Conference between the Chiefs of Staff of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, continued in Quebec City with the signing of the Quebec Agreement by U.S. President Roosevelt, U.K. Prime Minister Churchill, and Canadian Prime Minister King.[52] The terms of the pact, officially titled Articles of Agreement Governing Collaboration between the Authorities of the USA and the UK in the Matter of Tube Alloys, would remain secret until 1954. "Tube alloys" was a codename for atomic weapons.[53] The nations agreed to combine their atomic physicists and researchers to develop the atomic bomb, and not use the weapon against any other nation without joint consent.[54]
  • Secret negotiations began in Lisbon between General Giuseppe Castellano and the Allies to discuss an Italian surrender.[55]
  • The Battle of Bobdubi ended in Allied victory.
  • The Japanese submarine I-17 was sunk off Noumea by the New Zealand minesweeper Tui and American Vought OS2U Kingfisher aircraft.
  • A three-story Congoleum Nairn factory, in Kearny, New Jersey, was leveled by a chemical explosion, killing 12 people inside who were buried under tons of rubble.[56]
  • Died: German Army Colonel-General Hans Jeschonnek, 44, Chief of Staff of the Luftwaffe, by suicide after the attack on Peenemunde.

August 20, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

  • Japan and Thailand signed a peace treaty, in which four provinces of Japanese-occupied British Malaya (Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu) were to be made part of Thailand. Thai administration would begin on October 18.[57]
  • Soviet Major General P. V. Bogdanov, who had collaborated with the enemy after being captured by the German Army, was recaptured and turned over to the Soviet counter-intelligence service, SMERSH. Bogdanov would be executed, along with five other former Red Army generals, on April 19, 1950.[58]
  • The German submarine U-197 was sunk in the Indian Ocean by a PBY Catalina of No. 265 Squadron RAF; on the same day, the German submarine U-670 sank in the Bay of Danzig after a collision with the target ship Bulkoburg.

August 21, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

August 22, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Andrei Gromyko was named as the new Soviet Ambassador to the United States, as part of a surprise announcement that longtime Ambassador Maxim Litvinov was being removed from the post. Litvinov had departed Washington in May after Joseph Stalin summoned him back to Moscow.[62]
  • The identity of "Gertie from Berlin", who broadcast Nazi propaganda to English-speaking radio listeners, was revealed by the FBI, which identified her as Gertrude Hahn, an American citizen and native of Pittsburgh. Miss Hahn, who had moved to Berlin in 1938 when her father decided to return the family to Germany, had grown up in the nearby town of Mount Oliver.[63]
  • The Uniting Islamic Society of America was formed after a four-day meeting in Newark, New Jersey, organized by Sunni Muslims led by Wali Akram.[64]

August 23, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

  • Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union announced that the recapture of Kharkov from German occupiers had ended the Battle of Kursk with a serious strategic defeat for the German forces. Kharkov, the fourth largest city in the U.S.S.R., was the last major enemy base on the southern frontier.[65] The Soviet Navy newspaper Red Fleet revealed the discovery of several previously unknown types of German explosive devices that had left behind by forces fleeing from the Soviets. Some, found in Mtsensk, were time bombs that set to go off as late as 45 days after being set, while others were photo-sensitive, using an "electric eye" to trigger a blast as soon as the mine was brought out of a shadow. Others, discovered in Bryansk were camouflaged to look like swamp plants, or concealed inside chimneys.[66]
  • Born: Bobby Diamond, American child actor best known as "Joey" on the TV western Fury; in Los Angeles

August 24, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

Interior Minister Himmler
Protectorate Governor Frick

August 25, 1943 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Lord Mountbatten, Royal Navy Vice-Admiral and leader of the British Commandos in the Pacific War, was named by the Allies as the Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia. Mountbatten would conduct the Allied war effort against Japan in coordination with the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific operations, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur.[68]
  • The Mirgorod direction offensive ended in Soviet victory.
  • Germany used glide bombs for the first time against Allied vessels, but this new weapon's success would be limited.[55]
  • The German submarine U-523 was depth charged and sunk in the Bay of Biscay by British warships.

August 26, 1943 (Thursday)[edit]

August 27, 1943 (Friday)[edit]

August 28, 1943 (Saturday)[edit]

6-year-old King Simeon II
The late King Boris III

August 29, 1943 (Sunday)[edit]

  • As the occupation of Denmark by Germany continued, occupying military forces dissolved the nation's government, which had refused to respond to a wave of strikes and disturbances. King Christian X and Prime Minister Erik Scavenius were placed under arrest, and General Hermann von Hanneken of the German Army declared martial law. Danish crews, mostly at Copenhagen, scuttled thirty-two warships, including the armored defense ship Peder Skram, nine submarines, two new destroyers and two torpedo boats. The other armored cruiser, the Niels Iuel, was sunk by German bombers after Danes took control of it and attempted to take it toward Sweden. Four smaller Danish patrol ships successfully escaped to Sweden and docked at Malmö.[82][83]
King Christian X of Denmark
General von Hanneken, Nazi administrator of Denmark

August 30, 1943 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Lackawanna Limited wreck, a collision of a Lackawanna Railroad passenger train and a freight train killed 27 people and seriously injured another 46. Most of the casualties were scalded to death. The collision took place near Wayland, New York, when the freight engine's crew disregarded signals and pulled into the path of the Buffalo to New York Limited express, which was traveling at 70 miles an hour. Windows on the fifth coach were broken when a steam cylinder on the freight engine burst, sending boiling water onto the passengers inside.[85]
  • Germany's Ministry of Transport issued an order banning non-business use of horse-drawn vehicles, confining drivers, horses and carts to "work of war importance".[86]
  • The German submarine U-634 was depth charged and sunk east of the Azores by British warships.
  • Born:

August 31, 1943 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter was first used in combat, as groups of Hellcats took off from the aircraft carriers Yorktown, Independence, and Essex.[87] One historian would later opine that "The introduction of the Hellcat may have been the most important event of the Pacific war".,[88] while another would give the statistics supporting the opinion. "Of the 6,477 Japanese aircraft U.S. Navy carrier pilots claimed to have destroyed in the air, the Hellcat was responsible for 4,947 — an incredible feat considering the Hellcat did not enter combat service until August 31, 1943."[89]
  • Died: Gustav Bachmann, 83, German World War I admiral


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