Saturday, June 6, 2015

June 1944: More Than Fight on D-Day Beaches

From Barrett Tillman, at RealClearHistory:
In June 1944 a celestial observer in low orbit would have marveled at the immense breadth and variety of violence on Planet Earth. It was a watershed period in World War II, and not only Operation Overlord in Normandy on June 6. That month truly defined the phrase “world war.”

On June 4, Allied forces entered Rome, liberating the Eternal City after nine months of muddy, bloody slogging up the Italian boot. The U.S. Fifth Army received the credit, but the victory also belonged to Britons, New Zealanders, South Africans, Frenchmen, Poles, Indians and Gurkhas; even some Brazilians. But at the end of the war in May 1945, enemy forces still owned northern Italy. In fact, the Axis — outnumbered six to one and out-produced beyond computing — tied the rest of the world in knots for six years, including America, the British Empire, China, and the Soviet Union.

Also in Italy, the frequently forgotten U.S. Fifteenth Air Force — responsible for destroying Hitler’s oil supply — flew its first shuttle mission to Russia. Between June 2 and 11, nearly 200 bombers and fighters attacked German targets in Romania while staging out of Soviet bases.

Meanwhile on the Eurasian landmass, Russia prepared a massive blow. Along the Donets the Wehrmacht still occupied land several hundred miles east of Kiev. Four Soviet army groups — 124 divisions with 1.2 million men — were poised to strike, a cocked fist with an armored avalanche of 5,200 tanks and massive artillery on a scale that only Russians have ever managed. Half a million Germans awaited the blow on Army Group Center.

In northeastern India, British imperial forces shot it out with determined Japanese attackers (the only kind the emperor had) at Imphal, which controlled the only all-weather highway on the Burmese frontier. In that soggy jungle, soldiers on both sides watched their uniforms mold and weapons rust almost before their eyes. Tokyo’s hope of seizing the jewel in Britain’s crown died in the rot and decay of Manipur Province.

Meanwhile, American power also projected westward that June. On the opposite side of the globe...
More. Plus more articles on D-Day at RCH.