CBI - China: Day 129 of 142 of the 1st Battle of Hebei.
1936 — , May 9
MTO: Mussolini disbands his Blackshirt legions in Italy.
East Africa: Italy conquers Abyssinia (Ethiopia) as King Haile Selassie flees the country. Mussolini forms the colony of Italian East Africa by combining Abyssinia, Eritrea, and Italian Somaliland.
CBI: Chiang Kai-Shek proclaims that Japan is waging war in China without any declaration of war.
1937 — , May 9
Spain: Day 297 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
1938 — , May 9
Czechoslovakia: Konrad Henlein, the Leader of the Sudeten Nazi Party, cuts off communications with the Czechoslovakian government.
Spain: Day 662 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
CBI - China: Day 307 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 92 of 124 of the Battle of Henan.
1939 — , May 9
Switzerland: Spain leaves the League of Nations.
CBI - China: Day 672 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 54 of 54 of the Battle of Nanchang. The Chinese leadership calls off their siege and withdraws their troops.
Day 20 of 35 of the Battle of Suizao.
1940 — , May 9
Atlantic - Iceland: British launch Operation Fork, to invade and occupy Iceland to prevent Germany from being able to do so. Meeting no resistance, Royal Marines move quickly to disable communication networks, arrest German citizens and to secure landing areas against the possibility of a German counterattack. Iceland will remain occupied until the end of the war.
UK: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain begins to discuss the possibility of giving his resignation with Lord Halifax and Winston Churchill.
UK: The maximum age for conscription in the United Kingdom is raised to 36.
Atlantic: A Royal Navy fleet is attacked by German torpedo boats in the Baltic between Sweden and Germany. The destroyer HMS KELLY, with Lord Mountbatten aboard, is hit but is able to get towed out of there.
Atlantic: German sub U-9 sinks the French submarine DORIS 40 miles off of the Dutch coast.
ETO - Norway: Day 31 of 63 of the Battle of Norway. Four Polish battalions arrive at Narvik.
ETO - France: Hitler orders Operation YELLOW, his X-Day invasion of France and the Low Countries, to begin at exactly 5:35 AM tomorrow morning.
CBI - China: Day 1,038 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 177 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.
Day 9 of 49 of the Battle of Yichang.
1941 — , May 9
Atlantic: German subs U-110 and U-201 sink 3 British freighters. Afterward, U-110 is forced to surface by British depth charges and is shelled by British destroyers. The HMS BULLDOG then captures the sub and seizes intact its valuable Enigma coding machine and code book.
U-110 and HMS BULLDOG
The Enigma machine, invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I, used a rather ingenious array of electro-mechanical rotors to encrypt and decrypt secret messages. Early models were used commercially from the early 1920s and were adopted by military and government services of several countries, most notably by Nazi Germany before and during World War II.
The Germans thought their Enigma-coded messages were unbreakable and were quite shocked at the end of the war to hear that the Allies had been reading most of their messages almost as quickly as they were sent, thanks to the efforts of codebreakers at Bletchley Park, code-named ULTRA. Winston Churchill told Britain's King George VI after World War II, "It was thanks to ULTRA that we won the war."
The Wireless Telegraph area on board U-124 in Mar 41, where the Enigma machine can be seen bottom left.
Dates related to cryptology...
14 Mar 40: First "Bombe" decipher machine becomes operational
22 May 40: Bletchley Park cryptologists break Luftwaffe Enigma code
25 Sep 40: US discovers key to Japanese coding mechanism
09 May 41: British capture Enigma machine and code book intact
19 Jul 41: Churchill shares Enigma findings with Soviets
19 May 42: US decodes Japanese messages regarding mysterious "AF"
30 Jun 42: British completely crack the Enigma code
13 Apr 43: Decrypted Japanese code leads to plot to kill Admiral Yamamoto
07 Aug 44: IBM dedicates first program-controlled calculator
Related WWII Store items...
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum
Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park's code-breaking computers
Atlantic: German sub U-103 sinks British ship CITY OF WINCHESTER 700 miles west of Sierra Leone. In the same area, the Italian sub TAZZOLI sinks the Norwegian tanker ALFRED OLSEN.
ETO - UK: Day 246 of 258 of the Blitz. Aside from 507 bombers dropping on London, Liverpool and Belfast, Clydeside and Humberside are also hit.
MTO - Malta: The British transport ship EMPIRE SONG hits two mines and sinks off Malta.
MTO - Libya: Day 30 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk. German intelligence intercepts a British radio transmission containing weather information in the Libyan-Egyptian border region. This tips them off that an offensive is about to begin there.
Middle East: Day 8 of 30 of the Anglo-Iraqi War in Iraq. A British Brigade moves across the Iraqi border from Palestine.
East Africa: Day 334 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
CBI - China: Day 1,403 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
Day 3 of 21 of the Battle of South Shanxi.
CBI - Thailand: Day 221 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand). A peace treaty is signed between Vichy France and Thailand, which gives back portions of Indochina that had been lost by Thailand 40 years earlier.
1942 — , May 9
Atlantic: Day 116 of 169 of Germany's Second "Happy Time," during which U-boats sink 609 Allied ships with little risk.
US Coast Guard Cutter ICARUS sinks U-352 east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Russian Front - North: Day 244 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - North: Day 91 of 102 of the Battle of the Demyansk Pocket, another failed attempt to break the siege at Leningrad.
Russian Front - North: Day 5 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket.
Russian Front - South: Day 192 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
Russian Front - South: Day 2 of 12 of the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula, Crimea.
East Africa: Day 5 of 186 of the Battle of Madagascar.
CBI - Burma: Day 147 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma. By this date, most troops of the Burma Corps have withdrawn west of the Chindwin River. US 10th Air Force B-17s night bomb Mingaladon and attack the docks at Rangoon.
CBI - China: Day 1,768 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
PTO - Malaya: Day 80 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island.
PTO - New Guinea: US 5th Air Force B-26s and a B-17 attack shipping and seaplanes at Deboyne Island.
1943 — , May 9
ETO - UK: The British capture a JU-88R night fighter containing working FUG-202 Lichtenstein radar interception equipment.
ETO - Netherlands: The German occupation government in The Netherlands declares martial law.
Russian Front - North: Day 609 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
Russian Front - North: Day 370 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket.
Russian Front - South: The entire community at Skalat, Ukraine, is wiped out by the Germans.
MTO - Tunisia: Day 174 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. The Axis troops at Tunis surrender. RAF and US Air Forces provide air support.
MTO - Italy: US 9th and 12th Air Forces bomb at Palermo and the harbor at Messina.
MTO - Sardinia: US 12th Air Force RAF Wellingtons bomb the airfields at Villacidro, Elmas and Decimomannu.
CBI - China: Day 2,133 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
The Japanese begin a three-day massacre of civilians in Changjiao in the Hunan Province, killing about 30,000 people.
PTO - Alaska: Day 337 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
PTO - New Guinea: Day 18 of 148 of the 2nd Battle of Lae-Salamaua. US 5th and 13th Air Forces provide air support.
PTO - Philippines: The USS GAR sinks the Japanese freighter ASO MARU south of Negros Island.
1944 — , May 9
ETO - UK:
Commanding General of the 2nd AD of the 8th AF, James P Hodges, sends the 492nd Bomb Group to do a low-level exhibition flight over the bases of his other 13 groups and orders all available men to stand outside and marvel at just how tight a formation can and should be.
This spotlight is under construction. Be patient.
Formation of B-24 Liberators
(Bomb Group unknown)
As one of the last groups deployed to England, the 492nd Bomb Group arrived with more experienced men within their ranks than any other group serving in the ETO. They had more flying hours going into the war than most would have at war's end. Many of them were the instructors that had trained many of the airmen during the arms buildup while others were veterans of the Maryland National Guard's 104th Observation Squadron Anti-Submarine patrol that had been defending America's coast.
The most noticeable trademark of the Maryland National Guard's 104th Observation Squadron was their precision formation flying. During the 1920's and 30's their airfield outside Baltimore was used numerous times to host air shows. Professional stunt pilots and daredevils came from all over to perform. The 104th was bitten by the show bug and began using the events to show off their skills in the air. Each time they wanted to be better than before. Needless to say, they kept raising their performance level. To do that safely, they had to impose a very high level of discipline upon themselves.
Within a little over two decades, the 104th had established an elevated brand of military discipline and traditions. Their hard-line philosophy was simple. They found that by requiring strict discipline in small, trivial things, like a proper salute, it would build a better foundation for the important things, like flying. The Maryland Guard also wanted to look, act and perform better than the regular soldiers. The 104th became a first-rate squadron.
The tougher discipline had more than just an affect on flying formations. It elevated each man's self confidence and enhanced his trust in the others with whom he served. Each man would be able to cope with stress and emergencies better than before. Discipline, conditioning, training and practice, practice, practice became their hallmark; characteristics extremely important for any type of military unit going into battle.
As America's buildup was nearing its completion, these men were allowed to put in for combat duty. They represented America's best, and the Mighty 8th Air Force had great expectations for them. They became the 859th Bomb Squadron, the cadre source for the new 492nd Bomb Group.
As a first class outfit, these former anti-sub boys wanted to stay that way. As new crews came into the 492nd during Jan 44, they began drilling them with the same discipline they had inherited from the Maryland 104th. It didn't take too long for most of the new guys to catch on, although mastery was not something that could be learned overnight.
The elite of the 492nd had the flying experience and confidence to quickly spread out a their formation when entering a flak field and to stack themselves practically on top of one another to execute turns without leaving planes on the outside struggling to keep up. They could spread themselves out for better carpet bombing or form a stacked column to better hit a precision target. They could present a menacing wall of fire with a tight formation that exuded a certain "body language" that would cause Luftwaffe fighters to back off and look instead for a loose, sloppy formation elsewhere to attack.
General James Pratt Hodges
Between the time the 492nd Bomb Group got to England and their first combat mission, they practiced under the watchful eyes of the combat generals. The Commanding General of the 2nd Air Division, James Pratt Hodges, in checking them out, was so overwhelmed with their precision formations that he ordered the 492nd to fly their next exercise at low level so that the other 11 groups in the region could see what good formations were supposed to look like.
Bombing missions were a very tricky business, requiring precise orchestration between the three or four aircraft in each element; the lead, low left, high right and slot positions of the elements that made up each section; the lead, low left and high right sections that made up each group; and the groups that made up each wing (which looked just like the group formations, only much wider, often extending to over a mile across).
When any portion of the entire attack force faltered, things could go dangerously awry. For example, if an entire group were to properly execute a turn at a specific point and time, but the other groups in the wing were off by 20 seconds in doing so, that first group could easily find itself stranded far enough away from the others to be vulnerable, easy pickings for an unexpected attack by the Luftwaffe.
The high standards of discipline in the 492nd did pay off in combat. Although they would go on to suffer more casualties in the shortest amount of time than any other Group, that was due to hard luck, the fortunes of war, the same perils faced by all bomb groups.
On too many occasions the 492nd Bomb Group was attacked by the Luftwaffe when they had no escorts protecting them. They had to fight some of Germany's best fighter groups. On one mission they fought the Abbeyville Kids, Goering's pet outfit that was full of ace pilots. On another they had to slug it out with Germany's favorite hero, Major "Ramdahl" Dahl and his elite group of aces. The 492nd took heavy losses, but would have suffered even more had they not been so well disciplined.
Article and Related dates...
Formation Flying Bombing missions were a very tricky business, requiring precision orchestration
492nd Bomb Group related dates...
18 Apr 44: 492nd Bomb Group arrives at Station 143, North Pickenham
09 May 44: 492nd BG does exhibition formation flight over 2nd AD bases
11 May 44: 492nd BG flies its first mission; no casualties
11 May 44: 492nd BG flies its first mission; no casualties
19 May 44: 492nd BG Mission 05 to Brunswick; first of their three deadliest
20 Jun 44: 492nd BG Mission 34 to Politz; second of their three deadliest
07 Jul 44: 492nd BG Mission 46 to Bernburg; third of their three deadliest; entire 859th Bomb Squadron is wiped out
15 Jul 44: The bomb dump at nearby Metfield mysteriously explodes, rocking the countryside and destroying the 491st BG's base
07 Aug 44: 492nd BG flies its final mission (no casualties) and is disbanded
13 Aug 44: 801st Provisional Group is redesignated the 492nd Bomb Group
15 Aug 44: 491st Bomb Group moves into the base at North Pickenham
The best example of the need for a tight formation hit the 445th Bomb Group ruthlessly on 27 Sep 44 on the Kassel Mission, when they suffered the largest loss by a USAAF bomb group on any mission in WWII. Separated from the main bomber stream, the Luftwaffe attacked their already-loose formation, which completely fell apart with every B-24 scattering in all directions. The 445th learned the hard way that the integrity of their formations was literally a matter of life and death.
445th Bomb Group related dates...
28 May 44: Crippled 445th BG B-24 makes parachute-assisted landing
27 Sep 44: Kassel Mission - largest loss by any bomb group on any mission
Charles W Arnett
The 492nd Bomb Group has a special place in the hearts of brothers Paul and David Arnett, the two guys behind this ScanningWWII website. Their father, Charles Arnett, served in the 492nd BG as the pilot of a B-24 Liberator. He was shot down on his third mission and spent a year as a POW at Stalag Luft III where the "Great Escape" took place. It is because of our love for him that we developed a passion for WWII.
Dates related to Charles Arnett...
26 Jul 42: US Lt Col Clark shot down flying an RAF fighter over France
19 May 44: 1st of 3 deadly missions for the Hard Luck 492nd Bomb Group
ETO - France: The German defender besieged at Dunkirk finally surrender.
ETO - France: Day 284 of 284 of the Battle of Brittany. The German garrisons at Lorient, St Nazaire and La Rochelle surrender. It will take a few more days for the rest of these German defenders to surrender.
ETO - UK: The German garrison in the Channel Islands agrees to surrender to British troops after five years of occupation.
ETO - Bavaria: Field Marshal Hermann Goering surrenders to US troops along with his wife, children and staff.
ETO - Austria: Field Marshal Albert Kesselring is captured by US troops at the village of Saalfelden.
[+] show related dates
10 May 42: Kesselring prematurely says Malta has been neutralized
21 Nov 43: Kesselring appointed commander-in-chief of all forces in Italy
24 Mar 44: Mass killing is carried out by SS under Kesselring's command
09 May 45: Kesselring is captured by US troops
17 Feb 47: Kesselring stands trial in Venice, Italy
07 May 47: Kesselring given death sentence, will be commuted to life