19: General Georgy Zhukov is promoted to Marshal as the Stalingrad struggle grinds to a close.
20: USS Silversides attacks a Japanese convoy 286 miles from Truk, Caroline Islands en route to the Solomon Islands, sinking transport Meiu Maru and damaging Surabaya Maru.
21: Last airfield at Stalingrad is taken by Red Army forces, ensuring that the Luftwaffe will be unable to supply German troops any further; Hitler still demands that Friedrich Paulus continue the fight. : Red Army armies have more victories in the Caucasus.
2: In the Soviet Union, the Battle of Stalingrad comes to an end with the official surrender of the German 6th Army. The German public is informed of this disaster, marking the first time the Nazi government has acknowledged a failure in the war effort. : Rommel retreats farther into Tunisia, establishing his troops at the Mareth Line. Within two days, Allied troops move into Tunisia for the first time.
5: The Allies now have all of Libya under their control. : Essen is bombed, marking the beginning of a four-month attack on the Ruhr industrial area.
7: In the United States, it is announced that shoe rationing will go into effect in two days.
8: The Chindits (a "long range penetration group") under British General Orde Wingate begin an incursion into Burma. : Nuremberg is heavily bombed. : United States' VI Corps arrives in North Africa.
9: Guadalcanal is finally secured; it is the first major achievement of the American offensive in the Pacific war. : Munich and Vienna are heavily bombed, along with Berlin.
1: Heinz Guderian becomes the Inspector-General of the Armoured Troops for the German Army.
2: Battle of the Bismarck Sea. U.S. and Australian naval forces, over the course of three days, sink eight Japanese troop transports near New Guinea. : Wingate's Chindits continue their localised strikes in Burma.
5: German advances around Kharkov threaten earlier Red Army gains. : Continued RAF bombing of the Ruhr valley, particularly Essen.
6: Battle of Medenine, Tunisia. It is Rommel's last battle in Africa as he is forced to retreat.
8: Continuing German counter-attacks around Kharkov.
9: Members of the Calcutta Light Horse carry out a covert attack against a German merchantship, which had been transmitting Allied positions to U-boats from the Mormugao Harbour in neutral Portugal's protectorate, the Indian territory of Goa.
11: The Germans enter Kharkov and the fierce struggle with the Red Army continues.
Greek People's Liberation Army or ELAS
12 Karditsa in Greece becomes the first city in Europe to be liberated from Nazi occupation, after a campaign fought by ELAS, the Greek People's Liberation Army.
13: German forces liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Kraków.
14: Germans recapture Kharkov.
16: The first reports of the Katyn massacre in Poland seep to the West; reports say that more than 22,000 prisoners of war were killed by the NKVD, who eventually blame the massacre on the Germans. : Stalin for the ninth time demands a "Second Front," accusing his allies of treachery.
17: Devastating convoy losses in the Atlantic due to increased U-boat activity; the middle of the Atlantic is apparently not sufficiently covered by planes or ships.
26: The British break through the Mareth line in southern Tunisia, threatening the whole German army. The Germans move north. : Battle of the Komandorski Islands. In the Aleutian IslandsUnited States Navy forces intercept Japanese attempting to reinforce a garrison at Kiska. Poor leadership on both sides leads to a stalemate of sorts, and the Japanese withdraw without achieving their goal.
1: Allies continue to squeeze the Germans into the corner of Tunisia.
3: Racial tensions between American Marines and New Zealand troops of Māori origin result in the Battle of Manners Street, a small-scale riot in which no lives were lost.
4: The only large-scale escape of Allied prisoners-of-war from the Japanese in the Pacific takes place when ten American POWs and two Filipino convicts break out of the Davao Penal Colony on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. The escaped POWs were the first to break the news of the infamous Bataan Death March and other atrocities committed by the Japanese to the world.
7: Hitler and Mussolini come together at Salzburg, mostly for the purpose of propping up Mussolini's fading morale. : Allied forces–the Americans from the West, the British from the East–link up near Gafsa in Tunisia. : Bolivia declares war on Germany, Japan, and Italy.
10: The British 8th Army enters Sfax, Tunisia.
13: Radio Berlin announces the discovery by Wehrmacht of mass graves of Poles purportedly killed by Soviets in the Katyn massacre.
15: Finland officially rejects Soviet terms for peace. : Heavy RAF raid on Stuttgart.
18: Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, chief architect of Japanese naval strategy, is killed when his plane is shot down by American P38's over Bougainville. He was on an inspection tour. : The "Palm Sunday massacre": large numbers of German troop-transport aircraft are shot down before reaching Tunisia, where they were to pick up the isolated German troops.
26: The British finally take "Longstop Hill" in Tunisia, a key position on the breakout road to Tunis.
28: Allies attempt to close the mid-Atlantic gap in the war against the U-boats with long-range bombers.
30: Operation Mincemeat: Lt. Jewell's crew release a body bearing false documents near the Spanish coast. Later, the body washes up on the Spanish coast and is discovered by a local fisherman. They will go on to mislead the Germans about the site and timing of the Allied invasion of France.
Photo from Jürgen Stroop's report to Heinrich Himmler from May 1943 and one of the best-known pictures of World War II. The original German caption reads: "Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs". The boy in the picture might be Tsvi Nussbaum, who survived the Holocaust.
1: Allies close in on the cornered Germans in the Tunis area.
2: Japanese aircraft again bomb Darwin, Australia.
7: Tunis captured by British First Army. Meanwhile the Americans take Bizerte.
9: The Japanese begin a three-day massacre of civilians; about 30,000 Chinese are killed in the Changjiao massacre.
16: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends. The ghetto has been destroyed, with about 14,000 Jews killed and about another 40,000 sent to the death camp at Treblinka. : The Dambuster Raids are carried out by RAF 617 Squadron on two German dams, Mohne and Eder. The Ruhr war industries lose electrical power.
8: Eisenhower publicly announces the surrender of Italy to the Allies. The Germans enact Operation Achse, the disarmament of Italian armed forces. :The USAAF bombs the German General Headquarters for the Mediterranean zone at Frascati.
9: The Allies land at Salerno, Italy; meanwhile the British troops take Taranto in the heel of the Italian "boot". Allied strategy aims at a "drive" up the "boot". : Iran declares war on Germany.
10: German troops occupy Rome. The Italian fleet meanwhile surrenders at Malta and other Mediterranean ports.
11: British troops enter Bari in southeastern Italy.
12: Mussolini is rescued from a mountaintop captivity by German SS troops led by Otto Skorzeny. Mussolini is then set up by Hitler, who remains loyal to his old friend, as the head of the puppet "Italian Social Republic."
13: The Salerno beachhead is in jeopardy, as German counterattacks increase.
21: The battle of the Solomons can now be considered at an unofficial end. : The Massacre of the Acqui Division begins: After resisting for a week, the Italian Acqui division on the Greek island of Cephallonia surrenders to the Germans. During the next days, over 4,500 Italians are executed, and further 3,000 lost during transport at sea.
14: 229 of 292 B-17s reached the target in the Second Raid on Schweinfurt. Losses are so heavy that the long range daylight bombing campaign is suspended until the bombers can be escorted by P-51 fighters.
Members of the Sobibor extermination camp underground, led by Polish-Jewish prisoner Leon Feldhendler and Soviet-Jewish POW Alexander Pechersky, succeeded in covertly killing eleven German SS officers and a number of camp guards. Although their plan was to kill all the SS and walk out of the main gate of the camp, the killings were discovered and the inmates ran for their lives under fire. About 300 out of the 600 prisoners in the camp escaped into the forests.
28: Cruiser HMS Charybdis sunk, and destroyer HMS Limbourne damaged, by German torpedo boats off the North coast of Brittany with large loss of life. Bodies of 21 sailors and marines washed up on the Island of Guernsey. Buried with full military honours by the German Occupation authorities, allowing around 5,000 Islanders to attend and lay some 900 wreaths.
30: In Malaya, Japanese introduce the GOVERNMENT NOTIFICATION No. 41 to encourage families to grow their own food crops and vegetables. Families who are successful will be awarded prizes while families who fail to comply with this notification or leave their vacant lands unplanted will be punished. This notification was written by Itami Masakichi (Penang Shu Chokan) on 25 November 2603/1943.
The state of the Allies and Axis powers in December 1943
2: The Germans conduct a highly successful Air Raid on Bari, Italy. One of the German bombs hits an Allied cargo ship carrying mustard gas, releasing the chemical which killed 83 Allied soldiers. Over 1000 other soldiers died in the raid.