WWII Day-By-Day
Selected: April 21
       Overview of WWII on April 21 by year...

1933 — , April 21

  • CBI - China: Day 111 of 142 of the 1st Battle of Hebei.

1937 — , April 21

  • Spain: Day 279 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.

1938 — , April 21

  • Spain: Day 644 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 289 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 74 of 124 of the Battle of Henan.
    • Day 29 of 39 of the Battle of Xuzhou.

1939 — , April 21

  • CBI - China: Day 654 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 36 of 54 of the Battle of Nanchang. The Chinese 3rd and 9th Military Regions attack toward Nanchang.
    • Day 2 of 35 of the Battle of Suizao.

1940 — , April 21

  • ETO - Norway: While attempting to complete the evacuation of the American diplomatic legation from Norway to Sweden in the wake of the German invasion, US Army Captain Robert Losey is killed during the bombardment of Dombås, becoming the first American military casualty of WWII.

    Aeronautical meteorologist Captain Robert M Losey (left) and Ambassador Florence Jaffray Harriman (photo taken the day before Losey was killed).

    The American legation was divided into two parties. The first party, including Losey and Harriman, reached Sweden safely, but had lost contact with the second party. Losey volunteered to return to Norway in search of the remainder of the American legation.

    When the bombing began, he and his chauffer sought refuge in a railway tunnel with others, but once in the tunnel as he stood where he could observe the bombing, a bomb fell near the entrance to the tunnel. A fragment of it pierced Losey's heart, killing him.

    After the United States entered the war, Hollywood filmmaker Frank Capra included a brief account of Losey's death in "Divide and Conquer," the third episode of his propaganda film series, "Why We Fight," which he produced on behalf of the US Army Signal Corps.

    Dates of American pre-war incidents...

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  • ETO - Norway: Day 13 of 63 of the Battle of Norway. German troops land at Verdal and Kirknessvag, forcing the British troops near Trondheim to withdraw to Vist. Near Lake Mjøsa, the Germans break the Norwegian-British line causing them to retreat to Lillehammer.
  • Atlantic: German sub U-26 sinks the British merchant vessel CEDARBANK 50 miles northwest of ålesund, Norway. The supplies and weapons this vessel was carrying to Lillehammer is lost.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,020 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 159 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.

1941 — , April 21

  • Atlantic: German sub U-107 sinks the British ship CALCHAS 300 miles north of the Cape Verde Islands.
  • ETO - UK: Day 228 of 258 of the Blitz. Plymouth is hit hard, damaging three warships.
  • MTO - Greece: Day 16 of 25 of the Battle of Greece. German air and ground forces attack British, Australian and New Zealand troops at Thermopylae, sinking the Greek torpedo boat THYELLA, the hospital ships ELLENIS and ESPEROS and several freighters. One of the Greek Armies surrenders to a German SS division. All of these Greek soldiers are allowed to return home, and the officers are allowed to retain their side arms. Upon hearing this, Mussolini becomes furious and makes the Greeks sign another surrender agreement with much harsher terms.
  • MTO - Libya: Day 12 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk. German bombers attack the Tobruk harbor, sinking 2 ships and damaging two others.
  • MTO - Libya: In Operation MD2, the British battleships HMS WARSPITE, HMS BARHAM and HMS VALIANT, supported by one cruiser and 9 destroyers, shell Tripoli before dawn.
  • East Africa: Day 316 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,385 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - Thailand: Day 203 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).

1942 — , April 21

  • USA: Lt Edward "Butch" O'Hare, America's first fighter Ace of the war, also becomes the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in a presentation at the White House. While FDR looks on, O'Hare's wife Rita places the Medal around his neck.
  • USA: US President Roosevelt orders the seizure of all patents owned by enemy nations.
  • Atlantic: Day 98 of 169 of Germany's Second "Happy Time," during which U-boats sink 609 Allied ships with little risk.
    • U-576 sinks the US freighter PIPESTONE COUNTY off the coast of Virginia. Further to the south, U-201 sinks the US freighter SAN JACINTO.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 226 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 73 of 102 of the Battle of the Demyansk Pocket, another failed attempt to break the siege at Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 89 of 103 of the Battle of the Kholm Pocket. Another attempt to break the siege at Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 174 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 129 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,750 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • PTO - Japan: A large number of Japanese warships are sent out to search for the carriers that had launched the Doolittle Raiders, but find nothing.
  • PTO - Malaya: Day 62 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 135 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines.

1943 — , April 21

  • USA: President Roosevelt makes an official announcement condemning the execution of several downed Doolittle Raiders by the Japanese.

    Surviving Doolittle Raider Robert L Hite,
    co-pilot of plane #16, blindfolded by his captors

    The 18 Apr 42 Doolittle Raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, only hitting non-military targets or missing completely but it succeeded in its goal of raising American morale and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of its military leaders to defend their home islands.

    It also caused Japan to withdraw its powerful aircraft carrier force from the Indian Ocean to defend their Home Islands, and the raid contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific - an attack that turned into a decisive strategic defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy by the US Navy in the Battle of Midway.

    After the raid, the Japanese Imperial Army conducted a massive sweep through the eastern coastal provinces of China, in an operation now known as the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign, searching for the surviving American airmen and applying retribution on the Chinese who aided them, in an effort to prevent this part of China from being used again for an attack on Japan. An estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during this operation.

    Total raid casualties
        3 KIA: 2 off the coast of China, 1 in China;
        8 POW: 3 executed, 1 died in captivity, 4 repatriated.

    Doolittle, who initially believed that loss of all his aircraft would lead to his being court-martialled, received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two steps to Brigadier general.

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  • Russian Front - North: Day 591 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 352 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket.
  • MTO - Tunisia: Day 156 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. RAF and US Air Forces provide Allied air support. New Zealand troops of Maori ethnicity capture Takrouna.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 73 of 79 of the Allied Operation LONGCLOTH. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,115 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • PTO - Alaska: Day 319 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands. US 11th Air Force attacks Kiska Island.
  • PTO - Japan: The USS SCORPION sinks a sampan with her deck gun.
  • PTO - New Guinea: US 5th Air Force attacks at Kaimana and Laga.

1944 — , April 21

  • ETO - France: US 9th Air Force B-26s and A-20s attack targets at Etaples, Berck-sur-Mer, Doullens, Saint-Omer, Abbeville and Amiens.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 80 of 191 of the Battle of the Narva Isthmus, Estonia. Both German and Soviet troops remain in their defensive positions.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 14 of 35 of the Battle of the Crimea.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 14 of 60 of the Battle of Romania, 1st Jassy Offensive.
  • MTO - Romania: US 15th Air Force B-24s bomb at Bucharest.
  • MTO - Italy: Day 96 of 123 of the Battle of Monte Cassino. RAF and US Air Forces provide air support. The German Gustav Line continues getting weaker.
  • MTO - Italy: Day 91 of 136 of the Battle of Anzio. RAF and US Air Forces provide air support.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 48 of 166 of the UK's Operation THURSDAY.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 43 of 147 of the Battle of Myitkyina. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 21 of 302 of the Chinese Salween Offensive. US 14th Air Force provides air support.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,481 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 5 of 259 of Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.
    • Day 5 of 39 of the Battle of Central Henan, the first offensive in Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.
  • CBI - India: Day 45 of 118 of the Battle of Imphal-Kohima. Japanese troops capture Crete West hill near Imphal.
  • PTO: US 7th Air Force bombs targets in the Marshall and Caroline Islands.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 53 of 80 of the Battle of the Admiralty Islands. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 216 of 219 of the Battle of Shaggy Ridge. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 129 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain. US 13th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 173 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands. US 13th Air Force provides air support.

1945 — , April 21

  • ETO - Germany: With little desire to witness the aftermath of defeat, Field Marshal Walther Model commits suicide, shooting himself in the head. His decision to commit suicide is sealed when he learns that the Soviets have indicted him for war crimes, specifically for the deaths of 577,000 people in concentration camps in Latvia and the deportation of 175,000 others as slave labor.

    Otto Moritz Walter Model

    Model was a German general and later field marshal and is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism.

    He has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician.

    He shot himself in 1945, after surrendering his forces to the Allies.

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  • ETO - France: Day 266 of 284 of the Battle of Brittany.
  • ETO - France: Day 219 of 236 of the Siege of Dunkirk.
  • ETO - Germany: The US 9th Army captures Blankenburg, 80 miles east of Kassel. The US 1st Army takes Dessau. The French 1st Army captures Stuttgart and crosses the Danube. German troops keep up their resistance around Elbingerode in the Harz Mountains.
  • ETO - Germany: The US Army orders 200 to 300 German civilians from Gardelegen to bury the 1,016 political and military prisoners who had been massacred by German SS on 13 Apr 45.
  • ETO - Germany: US 8th and 9th Air Forces bomb jet fighter airfields, railroads and marshalling yards.
  • Russian Front - Finland: Day 219 of 223 of the Lapland War. Finland and Russia have joined forces to kick the Germans out of Finland's most northern province.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 189 of 206 of the Battle of the Courland Pocket in Latvia. German troops continue to hold out in the port of Pillau.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 9 of 13 of the Battle of Zemland, East Prussia.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 6 of 23 of the Battle of Settin-Rostock, both sides of the border between Germany and Poland.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 6 of 17 of the Battle of Berlin. Soviet troops begin entering the city.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 68 of 83 of the German Siege of Breslau (today Wroclaw, Poland). The Soviets continue with their siege.
  • MTO: US 15th Air Force bombs targets in Germany and Austria.
  • MTO - Italy: Day 3 of 5 of an assault by Japanese-American Nisei against a heavily-defended strongpoint of German fortifications on the Gothic Line in Tuscany. 2nd Lieutenant and future US Senator Daniel Inouye is grievously wounded while leading the assault, losing his right arm.

    Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye

    During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Inouye served as a medical volunteer. In 1943, when the US Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, he curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army.

    Inouye volunteered to be part of the segregated all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an army unit made up mostly of second-generation Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland. He was promoted to sergeant within his first year, and he was assigned as a platoon sergeant. He served in Italy and later in France, where he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant for his actions.

    At one point while he was leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms, until he lost them shortly before the battle in which he lost his arm.

    Back in Italy, on 21 Apr 45, as Inouye led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach. Ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and his Thompson submachine gun. When informed of the severity of his wound, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

    As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, coming within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade, a German soldier inside the bunker fired a rifle grenade, which struck his right elbow, nearly severing most of his arm and leaving his primed grenade clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to him anymore.

    Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left and tossed the grenade into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge.

    Dan Inouye recovering from his wounds

    The remainder of Inouye's mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital. Although he had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.

    At the time Inouye left the Army, he was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton (alongside 19 other Nisei servicemen who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were believed to have been denied proper recognition of their bravery due to their race).

    Returning to Hawaii after the war, Inouye earned a law degree and was elected to Hawaii's territorial House of Representatives in 1953, and to the territorial Senate in 1957. When Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959, he was elected as its first member of the US House of Representatives, and in 1962 he was first elected to the US Senate, going on to become one of the longest-serving US Senators in history.

    He never lost an election in 58 years as an elected official. He died at 88 on Dec 17, 2012, while still in office.

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  • MTO - Italy: Day 16 of 27 of Operation GRAPESHOT, a successful offensive in northern Italy. The Allied Air Forces hit targets in effort to hinder the supply or withdrawal of enemy troops.
  • MTO - Italy: Day 13 of 13 of the Battle of Bologna. The Polish II Corps captures Bologna.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 77 of 99 of the Battle of Pakokku and Irrawaddy River operations in central Burma.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,846 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 21 of 91 of the Battle of Zhijiang. US 14th Air Force provides air support.
    • Day 13 of 60 of the Battle of West Hunan (near Zhijiang).
  • PTO: US 7th Air Force: B-24s bomb Marcus Island in the north Pacific.
  • PTO - Japan: US 20th Air Force B-29s hit airfields at Oita, Kanoya, Usa, Kokubu, Kushira, Tachiarai, Izumi and Nittagahara and other targets at Kagoshima.
  • PTO - Japan: Day 21 of 83 of the Battle of Okinawa. US troops take Bloody Ridge on Okinawa. The US declares Ie Shima Island secure.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 481 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 365 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 184 of 299 of the 2nd Battle of the Philippines, aka the Liberation of the Philippines or the Philippines Campaign.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 128 of 244 of the Battle of Luzon. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 43 of 159 of the Battle of Mindanao Island. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 35 of 135 of the Battle of the Visayas region. US 5th and 7th Air Forces provide air support.

1948 — , April 21

  • USA: The battleship USS TEXAS is taken over by the State of Texas to be preserved as a memorial in a specially dredged canal in San Jacinto State Park in the greater Houston area.

Day-By-Day listings for April 21 were last modified on Friday, February 23, 2018
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