Yesterday           Tomorrow

August 20th, 1939 (SUNDAY)

Lord Halifax telegrams Kennard in Warsaw, requesting him to urgently try once more to gain Polish permission for Russian forces to enter their country.

FRANCE: Normandy: Churchill, resting at the St. Georges-Motel, the château of Consuelo Balsan, ex-Duchess of Marlborough, paints a picture of the building and remarks to his companion painter, the Anglo-French artist Paul Maze "This is the last picture we shall paint in peace for a very long time." (178 and 179 V Part 3, p. 1591)

GERMANY: Hitler writes to Stalin:
    The tension between Germany and Poland has become intolerable ...
A crisis may arise any day. Germany is at any rate determined from now on to look after the interests of the Reich with all the means at her disposal.

U.S.S.R.: In the early hours of the morning an agreement in signed between Germany and the Soviet Union. Hitler suspecting Molotov might cause delays in its ratification sends a personal message to Stalin urging all speed.

Khalkin-Gol: 5:45AM, 150 bombers carry out a massive raid on the forward edge of the Japanese defences, their close-in reserves and artillery positions.
The Soviets then assault along the entire front. Forces in the south gain the most ground, northern forces occupy the forward enemy positions reaching the fortified top of Palets Heights but are beaten back after a fierce fight.

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20 August 1940

Yesterday                           Tomorrow

August 20th, 1940 (TUESDAY)

RAF Bomber Command: 120 RAF bombers attack targets in Germany and airfields in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

London: Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons today and praised the RAF for its heroic struggle against the Luftwaffe.
"The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world ... goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds , unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war", he said. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day." Comparing this war with the last, the Prime Minister found many differences: "The slaughter is only a small fraction, but the consequences to the belligerents have been even more deadly. We have seen great countries with powerful armies dashed out of existence in a few weeks ... Moves are made upon the scientific and strategic boards, advantages gained by mechanical means."
He continued: "There is another more obvious difference from 1914. The whole of the warring nations, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children ... Our people are united and resolved, as they have never been before. Death and ruin have become small things compared with the shame of defeat."

Churchill also announces that bases in the Caribbean Sea will be leased to the United States.

Destroyer HMS Eridge launched.
Minelayer HMS Latona launched.

Submarine HMS Undaunted is launched.

Minesweeping trawler HMS Almond is commissioned.

Minesweeping trawler HMS Resparko is bombed and sunk off Falmouth.

RAF Fighter Command: Luftwaffe planes attempt to stoke the fire at Llanreith and Erpro 210 interfere with a convoy off Aldeburgh {East Coast} before striking sharply at Southwold's defences.
Weather restricts German activities. Manston and Martlesham attacked. Polish 302 Squadron in action for the first time shooting down a Ju88 on its way to bomb the airfield at Thornaby, Yorkshire.
Night raids take place on the Rolls-Royce works at Derby.

Losses: Luftwaffe, 7; RAF, 2.

ÉIRE: A Luftwaffe Focke Wulf FW 200C-1 Condor, coded "F8+KH" and assigned to Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG 40), crashes at 1410 hours local on the lower slopes of Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. 

This was the second Luftwaffe aircraft to crash in the country during World War II. The Condor had departed Abbeville, France, on a reconnaissance mission over northwestern Ireland and had been damaged by AA fire from a ship. All of the crew survived. Exactly 48 years later, the pilot and a crewman returned to the spot and met an Irish woman who had helped them on this day.

GERMANY: U-89 and U-130 laid down.

ITALY: Rome: Mussolini announces a blockade of British ports in the Mediterranean.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Italian planes bomb Gibraltar.

CHINA: Shansi Province: The Japanese army's strategic security network of garrisons in northern China was suddenly cut off from the world today as 40,000 men of the Chinese Communist Eighth Route Army launched a series of well-coordinated surprise attacks on road and rail installations, severing communications in the area.
The success of the attacks by the Army's 115 regiments provides a much-needed morale boost for the Chinese forces. and will help to silence critics of the Kuomintang who claim that the Communists are more intent on attacking them than the Japanese.

CANADA: Corvette HMS Fennel launched Sorel, Province of Quebec.

MEXICO: Exiled Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded by an ice-ax wielding assassin at his compound outside Mexico City. The killer--Ramón Mercader--was a Spanish communist and probable agent of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Trotsky (real name Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) will die of his wounds tomorrow at age 60. Trotsky, who was born in the Ukraine of Russian-Jewish parents, was a theorist and a leader in both the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. Appointed Lenin's secretary of foreign affairs after the 1917 revolution, he negotiated with the Germans for an end to Russian involvement in World War I. In 1918, he became war commissioner and set about building up the Red Army, which succeeded in defeating anti-communist opposition in the Russian Civil War. In the early 1920s, Trotsky seemed the heir apparent of Lenin, but he lost out in the struggle of succession after Lenin fell ill in 1922. In 1924, Lenin died, and Joseph Stalin emerged as leader of the USSR. Against Stalin's stated policies, Trotsky called for a continuing world revolution that would inevitably result in the dismantling of the increasingly bureaucratic Soviet state. He also criticized the new regime for suppressing democracy in the Communist Party and for failing to develop adequate economic planning. In response, Stalin and his supporters launched a propaganda counterattack against Trotsky. In 1925, he was removed from his post in the war commissariat, in 1926 he was expelled from the Politburo and in 1927 from the Communist Party. In January 1928, Trotsky was deported by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to Alma-Ata in remote Soviet Central Asia. He lived there in internal exile for a year before being banished from the USSR forever by Stalin. During the 1930s, he lived on the Turkish island of Prinkipo, France, Norway and he was finally granted asylum in Mexico in 1936. Settling with his family in a suburb of Mexico City, he was found guilty of treason in absentia during Stalin's purges of his political foes. He survived a machine gun attack but finally fell prey to Ramón Mercader who had won the confidence of the Trotsky household. The Soviet government denied responsibility, and Mercader was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Mexican authorities.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The German submarine U-51 is sunk in the Bay of Biscay west of Nantes, France, in position 47.06N, 04.51W, by a torpedo from the RN submarine HMS Cachalot. All hands on the U-boat, 43-men, are lost.

U-46 attacked SS Leonidas M Valmas. Constructive total loss.
U-A sank SS Tuira in Convoy OB-198.

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Yesterday        Tomorrow


20 August 1941

Yesterday     Tomorrow

August 20th, 1941 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Minesweeper HMS Ilfracombe is commissioned.

FRANCE: Paris: 5,000 foreign born Jews are arrested and sent to the deportation camp at Drancy.

50,000 people are arrested in occupied and Vichy France as a hunt goes on for railroad saboteurs.

GERMANY: Adolf Hitler authorizes the development of the V-2 rocket.

U-591 and U-592 are launched.

FINLAND: General der Infanterie Waldemar Erfurth, the representative of the OKW at the Finnish Supreme Headquarters, informs Mannerheim that Hitler wishes that the Finns would encircle Leningrad from the north with as many troops as possible. Mannerheim rejects the proposal and says that he has to negotiate with the President and cabinet first. Erfurth gets the impression that the Finns don't want to have anything to do with Leningrad.

U.S.S.R.: Leningrad: Marshal Voroshilov orders its defenders to fight to the death.

The German 11th Army of Heeresgruppe Süd captures Cherson on the Black Sea, the gateway to the Crimea. 

German XXXXII A. K. (Gen. d. Pio. Walter Kuntze) begins an attack on Tallinn. (Jeff Chrisman)

The Red Army, pursuing Stalin's scorched-earth policy, have blown up the Lenin-Dnieproges Dam at Zaporoje, on the Dnieper, one of the Soviet Unions' greatest achievements. 

The dam was the world's greatest hydro-electric power complex. Completed in 1932, it was proudly shown to foreign visitors as an example of Communist efficiency, although American engineers designed and built most of it.

It consisted of nearly half a mile of ferro-concrete, and contained huge sluices and docks which enabled cargo ships to pass along the river. The importance of the dam to Soviet industry cannot be over-estimated. The industries of the Dnieper valley, including the iron mines at Krivoi Rog, captured by the Germans, depend on the power it produces. Kharkov, a vital part of the Soviet defence industry, with its tractor works and machine-tool factories, is heavily dependent on the dam's power. The Russians claim that new factories now coming into operation east of the Urals will compensate for the loss.

This will deprive the Germans of much of the riches of the Ukraine.

At Belaya Tserkov, two German army chaplains informed the First General Staff Officer of the 296th Infantry Division, Lieutenant Colonel Helmuth Groscurth, of the pitiful plight of children brought to their attention by soldiers who had heard them crying in a school in which they had been locked for days without food. At the school, Groscurth was informed by an SS Sergeant that the children were to be shot, as their parents had been. Groscurth arranged for a postponement while he appealed the decision. When he telephoned the staff of Army Group South he was referred to the headquarters of the Sixth Army, from which he elicited a promise that a decision would be sought by evening from the army's commander.

Reichenau promptly decided that the action should be effectively concluded, but contacted Blobel and ordered it postponed because it had not been properly handled. He directed that the SS-colonel go with a representative of the Sixth Army High Command to Belaya Tserkov the following morning. The next day the children were executed. In a letter to his brother a few months later, Groscurth wrote of Reichenau and his like: "One can't view the responsible people with anything but the deepest contempt. Because this is so, Germany will be destroyed; I no longer have the slightest doubt of that" (pp. 107-111). (246)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: On 6 August 1941 HMS P 33 sailed from Malta with orders to intercept an Italian convoy bound for Libya. On 18 August HMS P 32 reported hearing a prolonged depth charge attack that lasted for two hours. When the attack was finally over P 32 attempted to contact P 33 but received no response and it is almost certain that P 33 had perished in the attack. P 33 was reported overdue today when she failed to return to Malta. However the Italians claim that she was sunk by the torpedo boat Partenope off Pantelleria on the 23 August.

U.S.A.:  In baseball, Larry MacPhail, General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, stages a fashion show before a Ladies Day crowd at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Such promotions, as well as the Dodgers pennant race, will push the home gate to over one million fans. 

ATLANTIC OCEAN: Minesweeping trawler HMS Lorinda is sunk after a fire near Freetown.

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Yesterday            Tomorrow


20 August 1942

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August 20th, 1942 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: In England, the principle of coordinated day and night bombing receives its first formal definition in the "Joint British/American Directive on Day Bomber Operations involving Fighter Cooperation." The emphasis is placed on achieving continuity in the bombing offensive from the UK.

 The US Eighth Air Force flies Mission 3; 11 B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb Longeau marshalling yard at Amiens, France at 1801 hours without loss.

Combined Ops HQ: The Allied reconquest of Europe must begin with a soldier wading ashore out of the sea. The question to be answered after the Dieppe raid is: How do you get him ashore and ready for battle when the enemy is sitting up there with a battery of guns trained on him?

Lord Mountbatten, the chief of Combined Operations, believes that Dieppe shows the need for overwhelming fire support, including close support, during the initial stages of an attack. Dieppe has convinced Allied planners that the massive force needed to open a second front cannot be assembled before 1944 at the earliest.

FRANCE: USAAF bombers raid Amiens.

GERMANY: U-229, U-340, U-643 and U-644 launched. U-368 and U-748 laid down.
U-636 commissioned.

U.S.S.R.: Black Sea Fleet and Azov Flotilla: Shipping loss: MS "TSch-405 "Vzrivatel"" - by field artillery, close to Eupatoria (later raised) (Sergey Anisimov)(69)

The German 6th Army is on the move at Stalingrad, penetrating the Russian 64th Army at Abganervor and Sarpa Lakes. 

Squadron-Leader Stephan Horthy, the vice-regent of Hungary, dies fighting with the Germans on the eastern front.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Late in the afternoon, the auxiliary aircraft carrier USS Long Island (ACV-1), escorted by the light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50) and destroyers USS Aylwin (DD-355) and USS Dale (DD-353), reaches a point 190 miles (305,8 kilometres) southeast of Guadalcanal and begins launching 31 aircraft of two USMC squadrons. These were 19 F4F-4 Wildcats of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Three (VMF-223), commanded by Captain John L. Smith, and 12 SBD-3 Dauntlesses of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron Two Hundred Thirty Two (VMSB-232), commanded by Major Richard Mangrum. The aircraft, the first U.S. aircraft to be based on the island, begin landing on Henderson Field at 1700 hours local. The task group is spotted by Japanese reconnaissance operating from the Shortland Islands but they are out or range of enemy land-based aircraft and they retire from the area without incident. 
     Beginning after midnight on the night of 20/21 August, 900 Japanese troops of the Ichiki Detachment attack Marine positions along the Tenaru River, approximately 3,000 yards (2743 meters) east of Henderson Field. In what becomes known as the Tenaru River, the Japanese are slaughtered. 

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: In the Aleutians, a US 11th Air Force B-24 Liberator flies photo reconnaissance over Kiska Island; a patrol is also flown over Shumagin Island.

CANADA: Trawler HMS Baffin commissioned and loaned to RCN.
Corvette HMCS Dawson arrived Kokiak for Aleutian Campaign under US control.

U.S.A.: HQ US Twelfth Air Force is activated at Bolling Field, Washington, DC. This unit is tasked with supporting the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942.

The USN redesignates its "Jeep" carriers from Aircraft Escort Vessel (AVG) to Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier  (ACV).

The entire West Coast is ordered to dim city lights at night. Searchlights crisscrossing the sky at Hollywood movie premieres are extinguished for the duration. Limits have also been placed on movies studios relating to the amount of cloth they could use in costumes, the quantity of new construction they could devote to sets, and the amount of film stock they could purchase. Hollywood directors must learn to limit the number of "takes" when filming movies.

Submarine USS Gunnel commissioned.
Escort carrier USS Nassau commissioned.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The German submarine U-464 is sunk southeast of ICELAND at 61.25N, 14.40W by a USN PBY-5A Catalina of Patrol Squadron Seventy Three (VP-73) based at Reykjavik, Iceland. While on convoy escort in Skerja Fjord near Reykjavik, the PBY crew surprised the surfaced submarine in rough weather and attacked with 5 depth charges which disabled the sub and prevented it from diving. Although U-464 could make 8 knots on the surface, the crew realized that the boat would be destroyed by nearby surface forces so the U-boat captain decided to scuttle the boat and got underway heading for a nearby Icelandic trawler. There are two versions of what happened next. The British and Icelandic versions are that the Icelandic trawler Skaftfellingur headed for the sinking U-boat and commenced rescue operations. The Germans seemed hesitant to leave their boat but finally after one of them had been pulled over to the trawler via line they jumped into the water. The 7-man Icelandic crew then accommodated the 52 German survivors and placed them in the bow. A machine gun on the bridge enforced the order. Later the same day 2 British destroyers arrived and captured the Germans. The German version is that the U-boat crew boarded the Icelandic boat and subdued its crew and headed for Germany and they were only interrupted by 2 British destroyers. The RN authorities believed the Icelandic version. Only 2 of the 54 crewman of the U-boat died. The Icelandic captain is interrogated by a British court in Fleetwood, Lancashire, about this.
   Returning to base, the PBY pilot sent the following message: Sank Sub Open Club.  This message was directed at Commander Daniel V Gallery, USN, who had closed the Officers Club because the PBY crews had not sunk any submarines. Gallery was in command of Task Group 22.3 which captured the German U-boat U-505 in the Atlantic on 4 June 1944. U-505 is currently on display in Chicago, Illinois.


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Yesterday        Tomorrow


20 August 1943

Yesterday                           Tomorrow

August 20th, 1943 (FRIDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Minesweeper HMS Spanker commissioned.
Minesweepers HMS Chameleon, Cheerful and Squirrel laid down.

GERMANY: Peenemunde: The head of rocket research is found dead, shot by an unknown assassin.

U-1107 laid down.

NORWAY: Oslo: A state of siege has been proclaimed throughout Norway. Army officers have been rounded up for deportation to PoW camps in Germany, and the Oslo police commissioner has been shot dead. Gunnar Eilifsen, the police commissioner, repeatedly disobeyed an order to provide men to arrest Norwegian women for compulsory labour in war industries. There is now widespread defiance of German rule. Of the 35,000 new workers demanded by the Germans only 4,000 have been found.

BALTIC SEA: - U-670 is sunk at 2230 hours local in the Gulf of Danzig, position unknown, after a collision with the German target ship Bolkoburg. 22 of the 43 crewman on the U-boat survive.

U.S.S.R.: A Soviet Army spearhead in northern Ukraine plunges 75 miles (120,7 kilometres) beyond Kharkov and threatens to trap German forces in the wrecked city. Hitler orders Kharkov to be held at all costs. Since losing 3,000 panzers and 1,200 planes during last month's disastrous Battle of Kursk, the outnumbered and outgunned Germans have been unable to contain Soviet offensives along a 600-mile (965,6 kilometer) front from central Russia to the Black Sea.  (John Nicholas and Jack McKillop)

PORTUGAL:  Peace talks between American, British and Italian generals end in Lisbon with the Allies giving the Badoglio government ten days to agree to unconditional surrender. 


- US Ninth Air Force B-24's attack a railroad station, marshalling yard, and air depot at Cancello Arnone.

- US Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26 Marauders and B-17s bomb marshalling yards at Villa Literno and Aversa; the P-38 escort also attacks Aversa; NASAF aircraft claim 20+ enemy fighters shot down.

Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26 Marauders hit the Capua and Aversa marshalling yards, while B-25 Mitchells bomb the Benevento marshalling yard.


INDIA: Lieutenant General George E Stratemeyer assumes command of the US Army Air Forces, India-Burma Sector, China-Burma-India Theater which is activated at New Delhi, India.  Components include the Tenth Air Force, China-Burma-India Air Service Command (Provisional), China-Burma-India Training Unit (Provisional) and several lesser units. Because of pressure from Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Stratemeyer will only control the US Tenth Air Force in India and acts as an advisor to the Fourteenth Air Force in China which is commanded by Major General Claire L Chennault.

INDIAN OCEAN:  - U-197 is sunk south of Madagascar, in position 28.40S, 42.36E, by depth charges from 2 RAF Catalina Mk IBs, 1 from No 259 Squadron based at Kipevu, Kenya, and 1 from No 265 Squadron based at Diego Suarez, Madagascar. All hands, 67 men, on the U-boat were lost.


NEW GUINEA: Allied forces are fighting on Babdubi Ridge, SW of Salamaua. This is part of phased brigade attacks ordered by Maj-Gen Savige (GOC 3 Australian Division) to break the Japanese defensive lines centred on Mount Tambu. Mount Tambu was an immensely strong natural fortress improved with fortifications up to 12 feet thick.

The sequence was as follows: US 162nd Infantry Regiment (-) captured Roosevelt Ridge on 13 August; 15th Australian Militia Brigade attacked Bobdubi Ridge on 14 August; 17th Brigade AIF enveloped Mount Tambu on 16 August.

The capture of Mount Tambu was achieved by two companies of 2/6 Bbn AIF infiltrating across Buirali gorge to seize a position behind Mount Tambu, astride the Japanese supply line. At the same time frontal pressure was maintained by 2/5 Bn AIF and I/162 US Inf Bn. Japanese counter attacks on the 2/6 Bn infiltration force were broken up by long range sustained MG fire from 42 Aust militia Bn. After three days, the Japanese I/66 Bn abandoned Mt. Tambu on 19 August. Neighbouring defensive positions were also abandoned.

The Japanese had been evicted from a strong defensive position at minimal cost. (Michael Mitchell)

24 B-24s escorted by 46 P-38s bomb Boram Airfield, New Guinea in the late morning.

PACIFIC OCEAN: The USN submarine USS Pompano (SS-181) departs Midway Island on her seventh war patrol. She is never heard from again. 

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: During the Aleutian Campaign, 3 June 42 to 21 August 43, the US Eleventh Air Force destroyed 69 aircraft, sank 21 and damaged 29 ships, and lost 29 of its own aircraft.

: Quebec: Britain and the United States have agreed on how they will co-operate on a secret weapon, the atomic bomb, known in code as "Tube Alloys". President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill today signed a simple agreement: never to use "this agency" against each other, and not to use against third parties without each other's consent.

The agreement caps several months of negotiations between British and American officials. The secret project will be placed under a joint committee in Washington. Mr. Roosevelt has also persuaded Mr. Churchill to accept the US chief of staff, General Marshall, as the senior Allied commander.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-596 sank SS Nonn El Sayeda.


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Yesterday        Tomorrow


20 August 1944

Yesterday      Tomorrow

August 20th, 1944 (SUNDAY)

ENGLISH CHANNEL: - U-413 is sunk  south of Brighton, in position 50.21N, 00.01W, by depth charges from the RN escort destroyer HMS Wensleydale and the destroyers HMS Forester and HMS Vidette. Only 1 of the 46 crewmen of the U-boat survived.

 - 61 US Ninth Air Force B-26s bomb troop and equipment concentrations waiting at Foret de la Lande to be ferried across the Seine River; fighters fly armed reconnaissance along the Seine River, support ground troops in the battle area of northern France, and fly an escort mission to 100+ C-47 Skytrains on a supply and evacuation run.
 -  In southern France during the night of 19/20 August,  US Twelfth Air Force A-20 Havocs attack lights and motor transport from the battleline northwest to the Rhone River; B-26s, joined by fighter-bombers and fighters, hit coastal defence guns in the Toulon area, while B-25s bomb Rhone Valley bridges and airfields achieving especially good results at the airfield near Valence.

Falaise: Fighting is at its fiercest, as the German Seventh Army tries to break out of the "pocket" to join the SS 2nd Panzer Division at Mont Ormel.

Last night the last units of the German 5th Panzer and 7th Armies escape from the Falaise pocket through the Allied lines around Chambois and St. Lambert.

Patton takes crossings on the Seine River at Mantes Grassicourt, 30 miles west of Paris. The XX Corps enters Fontainebleau.

- U-188 is scuttled at the U-boat base in Bordeaux when it is unable to escape the Allied advance.

Petain is arrested by the Germans in Vichy for refusing to go to an area which is safe from the Allied advance.

Paris: The Hôtel de Ville is taken over by the FFI. The mobilization of the FFI is described thus: "An officer was told by a double agent that two trucks were broken down at Levallois; they were attacked and their drivers killed; the spoils were fruitful: 4 machine guns, 12 submachine guns, 250 pistols, and some ammunition boxes. At Clichy two German trucks collided at the angle of the boulevard Victor-Hugo and the boulevard Jean-Jaurès, and 9 machine guns, 15 submachine guns, and 8 Mausers were made away with. Next day, 20 submachine guns were taken from the Hotchkiss factory as well as a truckload of long-handled grenades on the quai de Saint-Ouen. So the insurgents,..., reached a strength of seven to eight thousand armed combatants for the liberation."
Since the main roads are clear, and German patrols are able to pass freely up and down them, von Cholitz feels no call to intervene; the occupation of the Préfecture de Police and Hôtel de Ville are without strategic significance. At the demand of the non-Communist resistance and through the good offices of Nordling, the Swedish consul general a truce is arranged.

GERMANY: U-3513 laid down.

In east central Europe, the US Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches 460+ B-24s and B-17s, some fighter-escorted, to bomb the airfield and marshalling yard at Szolnok, Hungary and oil refineries at Dubova, Czechoslovakia, and Czechowice and Auschwitz, Poland.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA:Seventy six USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb the oil refinery at Dubrova without loss. 


HUNGARY: USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators attack three targets: 94 aircraft bomb the marshalling yard at Szolnok, 88 bomb Rakoczifalva Airfield at Szolnok with the loss of two aircraft, and six bomb the city of Szeged.  


POLAND: Two hundred twelve USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb the I.G. Farben oil refinery at Oswiecim with the loss of one aircraft. 

U.S.S.R.: A major Soviet offensive begins near Jassy and Tiraspol. This involves a massive artillery bombardment from Malinovsky's Second Ukraine Front and Tolbukhin's Thrird Ukraine Front. The defence is by the 3rd and 4th Rumanian Armies and the German 6th Army, which contains many Rumanian troops. This is General Freissner's Army Group South Ukraine.

Shellfire from 'Prinz Eugen' assists in the successful defence against the Russian attack near Riga.

BLACK SEA: - U-9 is sunk at 1030 hours local at Konstanza, Black Sea in position 44.12N, 28.41E, by bombs from Soviet aircraft. In 1945 the Soviets raised the boat and brought it in the Russian harbour Nikolaev. She became in 1945 the USSR TS-16, but due to extensive damages she was broken up sometime after 12 Dec, 1946.

JAPAN: 61 US XX Bomber Command B-29 Superfortresses based at Chengtu, China, bomb the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata during the day; 14 B-29s are lost, including 1 to AA and 4 to enemy aircraft (1 by air-to-air bombing and 1 by ramming); B-29 gunners claim 17 air victories. One crew bails out over Soviet territory and is interned. During the night of 20/21 August, 10 B-29s from Chengtu attack the Yawata steel works and 5 others bomb other targets.

Saipan Island-based US Seventh Air Force B-24s hit Yap Island for the first time.

During the night of 20/21 August, radar-equipped US Thirteenth Air Force B-24s attack Japanese installations in the Palau Islands.

NEW GUINEA: MacArthur announces that the fighting on Biak, New Guinea. Japanese casualties are 4,700 KIA and 220 POW. US casualties total 2550 KIA and WIA.In the Aleutian Islands, 4 US Eleventh Air Force B-25s fly a negative shipping sweep.

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: In the Aleutian Islands, 4 US Eleventh Air Force B-25s fly a negative shipping sweep.

U.S.A.: The USN's nonrigid airship K-111 operating in conjunction with the escort aircraft carrier USS Makassar Strait (CVE-91) off San Diego, California, demonstrates the feasibility of refuelling and replenishing airships from aircraft carriers. In this operation that lasted 72.5 hours, K-111's crew was relieved every 12 hours and its engines were operated continuously. In one evolution, the airship remained on deck for 32-minutes.

Destroyer minelayer USS Lindsey commissioned.
Heavy cruisers USS Los Angeles and Chicago launched.
Minesweeper USS Quail launched.
Aircraft carrier USS Antietam launched.

Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-256 departed the 3rd Naval District for Los Angeles. She was towing the QS-54. She was assigned to and operated in the Southwest Pacific area. She was decommissioned 22 October 1945.

Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-259 departed the 3rd Naval District for Los Angeles towing the QS-57. She was assigned to and operated in Hawaii.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-764 sank SS Coral in Convoy ETC-72.
U-861 sank SS Berwickshire and damaged SS Daronia in Convoy DN-68.

U-862 shot down RAF Catalina aircraft, Squadron 265/H. The boat shot down the aircraft and escaped despite a massive search for it.

 - U-984 is sunk in the Bay of Biscay west of Brest, in position 48.16N, 05.33W, by depth charges from the RCN destroyers HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Kootenay and HMCS Chaudiere. All hands on the U-boat, 45 men, are lost.

U-984 a VIIC type U-boat, built by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, launched 12 May 43, commissioned 17 Jun 43, in service 14 months, with a record of 4 ships sunk for a total of 22,850 tons and 1 ship damaged for a further 7,240 tons. Escort Group 11 was returning to Londonderry after sinking U-621, OLtzS Hermann Struckmann Knights Cross, CO, (see 18 Aug) HMCS Restigouche had already been detached due to defects, Ottawa and Chaudiere were low on fuel and Kootenay had a leaking fuel pump that was becoming critical. Ottawa gained asdic contact at 1935. Chaudiere used the last of her 'Hedgehog' bombs (without result) and then resorted to depth charges, which produced an oil slick. At 2300 the attacks were broken off and EG 11 proceeded back to base. At the time, it was judged that insufficient evidence had been produced to justify awarding a 'kill'. However, record reconstruction after the war has proven that U-984 was sunk in this engagement. The sinking of 2 U-boats in 2 days, both commanded by experienced officers, was probably the best Canadian ASW performance during the war. Although the successes of EG 11 on 'offensive' ASW sweeps in the Bay of Biscay indicate there was some value in 'hunter-killer' Ops, post-war Ops analysis concluded that the effort expended per U-boat killed on such 'sweeps' was far greater than in convoy battles. Detached groups also had the effect of weakening the escort forces assigned to screen convoys. Historians and naval Ops planners still strongly argue this point. OLtzS Sieder, was U-984's only Commanding Officer. Heinz Sieder was born in 1920, In Munich. He joined the navy in 1938. When the war broke out he was under training in the old battleship Schlesien. He continued his training at the naval college and naval gunnery school until Apr 40, when he was assigned to the battlecruiser Scharnhorst . He transferred to the U-boat force in Feb 41 and underwent conversion training. He was assigned to the 26th U-Flotilla in Sep 41 and in Jan 42, was appointed as the First Watch Officer in the Type VIIC training boat U-440, KptLt. Hans Geissler, CO. U-440 was transferred to Ops in Sep 42 and OLtzS. Sieder was selected for command in Apr 43. (She was sunk on her next patrol by a RAF 'Sunderland' patrol a/c) After his U-boat commander's course, Sieder was appointed to commission the Type VIIC boat U-984 on 17 Jun 43. He was awarded the Knight's Cross on 08 Jul 44, the 112th presented in the U-boat force.

 - U-1229 is sunk in the North Atlantic southeast of Newfoundland, in position 42.20N, 51.39W, by depth charges and rockets from 3 TBM Avengers and 2 FM Wildcats of Composite Squadron Forty Two (VC-42) in the US escort aircraft carrier USS Bogue (CVE-9). 41 of the 59 U-boat crewmen survive.

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20 August 1945

Yesterday                           Tomorrow

August 20th, 1945 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Westminster: Ernest Bevin, the foreign secretary, condemns Soviet policy in eastern Europe as "one kind of totalitarianism replaced by another."

HMS Baffin paid off and returned to RN on the Clyde.

NORWAY: Oslo: Vidkun Quisling, Hitler's puppet ruler of Norway, sprang to attention in the Oslo courtroom today and proclaimed his innocence after listening to a 14-page indictment accusing him of high treason, murder and theft of royal property. The prosecution produced evidence gleaned from Nazi files in Germany, that Quisling had been in regular and secret contact with Nazi leaders before the war. In 1939, according to one document, Quisling urged Hitler to occupy Norway because the people were almost all pro-British. He sat scowling in the dock as the evidence was given.

POLAND: Anti-Semitic riots break out in Cracow.

U.S.S.R.: Baltic Fleet ship MS "T-355" is lost, mined in the south part of the Baltic Sea. 

Pacific Fleet ship loss - SKR "Partizan" - mined at Genzan port area (Korea) (Sergey Anisimov)(69)

INDIAN OCEAN: A de Havilland Mosquito based on the Cocos Islands visits Penang and Taiping covering 2,600 miles in a mission which lasts over nine hours. (22)

CHINA: Communist and Nationalist troops clash in northern China.

The Red Army occupies Mukden and Harbin.

Two Chinese junks, manned by seven Americans and 20 Chinese guerrillas were en-route from Haimen to Shanghai when they were attacked by a Japanese junk with 83 men aboard. The 45-minute battle was fought with bazookas, machine guns and grenades and when it was over, the Allies boarded the Japanese junk and found 45 dead and 35 wounded against four Chinese killed and one American and five Chinese wounded. The USN officer in command, Lieutenant Livingston Swentzel Jr, USNR, was later awarded the Navy Cross in what was probably the last surface action of WWII.

From Stars and Stripes:

SHANGHAI - Oct. 5 - (UP) - The United  States Navy's last surface engagement of World War II was won off the China  coast by a handful of Yanks aboard

a pair of ancient junks.  

The battle occurred Aug. 20 - five days after Japanese surrender  - when one Army captain, two Marine officers, one Navy lieutenant and four Navy enlisted men conquered a heavily armed Jap army junk, killed 43 Japanese and took 39 prisoners, all but four of whom were wounded.

The Navy's  first battle under sail since the Civil War days took place on the night of Aug.  19 when Lt. Livingston 'Swede' Swentzel, Jr., led a little two junk flotilla out  of a coastal town near Hainan, Shanghai bound.

Commanding the  second junk was Marine Lt. Stewart L. Pittman. Aboard Swentzel's junk were Capt.  Austin B. Cox, an army air-ground support officer whose necessity to reach  Shanghai was one of the reasons for the voyage; Capt.

Pat O'Neill, U.S. Marine  Corps Reserve and Seaman First Class James R.


With Pittman  were three enlisted men - Gunners Mate William K. Barrett, Gunners Mate Floyd  Rose and Motor Machinist Mate David A. Baker.

The morning of the  20th, while tacking north against a heavy wind, the tiny task force suddenly  confronted a big menacing junk.

The Americans spotted a gleaming  .75 howitzer which immediately belched smoke and fire, making a direct hit about  10 feet above the deck. The blast killed a pair of Chinese tommy-gunners and  knocked out a third and sprayed Captain Cox with fragments.

U.S. Navy patrol planes reconnoitre Indochina and south China coasts. During the missions, Japanese fighters attempt to intercept them.

CANADA: HMC ML 114 paid off.
Frigates HMCS Outremont, Poundmaker and Prestonian completed tropicalization refits at Sydney Nova Scotia, Lunenburg Nova Scotia and Halifax Nova Scotia respectively
Tropicalization refit of HMCS Buckingham at Shelburne Nova Scotia suspended.
Tropicalization refits cancelled: HMCS Strathadam (not known), Victoriaville (Saint John NB), Carlplace (Shelburne Nova Scotia), Fort Erie (Pictou Nova Scotia), Inch Arran (Sydney Nova Scotia)

U.S.A.: Washington: The war production board lifts restrictions on the production of consumer goods.

In baseball the Brooklyn Dodgers play the Pittsburgh Pirates. During the game, Dodger shortstop Tommy Brown hits a home run off Pirates' pitcher Preacher Roe and becomes the youngest player (17 year, 8 months and 14 days) to hit a home run in major-league baseball.

Destroyer USS John R Craig commissioned.

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