WWII Day-By-Day
Selected: May 26
       Overview of WWII on May 26 by year...

1933 — , May 26

  • Germany: Legislation is passed allowing the state to confiscate the property of Communists.

1937 — , May 26

  • Spain: Day 314 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.

1938 — , May 26

  • Spain: Day 679 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 324 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 109 of 124 of the Battle of Henan.

1939 — , May 26

  • CBI - China: Day 689 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - Mongolia: Day 16 of 129 of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, a border dispute between the Soviet Union and Japan.

1940 — , May 26

  • UK: In Britain, "Empire Day" is declared as a national day of prayer.
  • Atlantic: German JU-88 aircraft attack and sink the British anti-aircraft cruiser HMS CURLEW off Narvik, Norway.
  • ETO - Norway: Day 48 of 63 of the Battle of Norway. The Allies continue withdrawing out of Norway.
  • ETO - Belgium: Day 17 of 19 of the Battle of Belgium. The Germans encircle the French 1st Army while Belgian troops are pushed back to the Leie/Lys River.
  • ETO - France: Day 17 of 44 of the Battle of France. The evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk begins. German troops take Calais and move on toward the Citadel.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,055 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 194 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.
    • Day 26 of 49 of the Battle of Yichang.

1941 — , May 26

  • Atlantic: Day 1 of 2 of the sinking of the BISMARCK. Outdated British bi-plane Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from the HMS ARK ROYAL attack the great German battleship BISMARCK, hitting and jamming her rudder, leaving her running in circles. The BISMARCK will be polished off tomorrow and the HMS HOOD will be avenged.

    A Fairey Swordfish "Stringbag"

    Designed in the 1930s, the Fairey Swordfish bi-plane outlived several types intended to replace it and remained in front line service until V-E Day.

    The Swordfish received the nickname "Stringbag" not because of its construction, but because of the seemingly endless variety of stores and equipment that the aircraft was cleared to carry. Crews likened the aircraft to a housewife's string shopping bag which was common at the time and, which due to its having no fixed shape, could adjust to hold any shape of packages. Like the shopping bag, the crews felt that the Swordfish could carry anything.

    On May 26th the hunt for the Bismarck involved every available ship in the Royal Navy. "Force H" with HMS ARK ROYAL was coming up from Gibraltar and a large number of other warships had been detached from their Atlantic convoy escort duties and were making their way independently.

    But it was a US Naval Ensign who made the first crucial sighting. The United States, still being neutral at this time, were not taking an 'active' part in hostilities, but had attached 17 airmen to the RAF, partly to assist with the familiarization of the new Catalina flying boats. Ensign Leonard B Smith was officially a "co-pilot and special observer." He had taken off from Northern Ireland at 0325 and was way out in the Atlantic at 1010 when he glimpsed the Bismarck through the clouds. He came round for a closer look. His report shows that he was not taking an entirely neutral, passive role in affairs.

    Smith radioed in the sighting as the Bismarck unleashed anti-aircraft fire toward them, forcing the Catalina to take evasive measures. Other aircraft quickly joined the scene and the battle began that ended this day with the Bismark crippled.

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  • MTO - Greece: Day 7 of 13 of the Battle of Crete. The Luftwaffe misidentifies and attacks their own troops near Galatas. At night, 1,000 Allied troops are surrounded at Canea.
  • MTO - Libya: Day 47 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk. The Germans launch Operation SKORPION to capture the Halfaya Pass in Egypt near the border of Libya.
  • Middle East: Day 25 of 30 of the Anglo-Iraqi War in Iraq. Iraqi troops receive supplies from Vichy French forces in Syria. Meanwhile, the Germans evacuate the airfield at Mosul.
  • East Africa: Day 351 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,420 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 20 of 21 of the Battle of South Shanxi. Japanese fighters intercept a Chinese fighter squadron in the Gansu Province, and destroy nearly all of them.

1942 — , May 26

  • USA: The Northrop P-61 Black Widow twin-boom, radar-equipped night fighter makes its first flight near Hawthorne, California.

    A P-61A of 419th Night Fighter Squadron

    The P-61 Black Widow (named for the spider) was the first operational US military aircraft designed specifically for night interception of opposing aircraft, and was the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar. It was all-metal, twin-engine, of a twin-boom design.

    The P-61 had a crew of three: pilot, gunner, and radar operator. It was armed with four forward firing cannons mounted in the lower fuselage, and four machine guns.

    Although not produced in the large numbers of its contemporaries (only 706 were built), the Black Widow was effectively operated as a night-fighter by United States Army Air Forces squadrons in the ETO, PTO, MTO and the CBI theaters during World War II.

    Close-up view of the P-61 night fighter's radar operator's compartment in the rear of the fuselage

    East Field, Saipan, Mariana Islands, 20 Jul 44

    The P-61 was equipped from day one with then super-secret radar which could locate enemy aircraft in the dark and which had the capability to see and distinguish other airplanes during periods of darkness or under conditions of poor visibility.

    The radar operator's station was at the aft end of the gondola. The radar operator controlled the radar set and viewed its display scopes from the isolated rear compartment, which he entered by way of a small hatch with a built-in ladder on the underside of the aircraft. In addition to the radar systems themselves, the radar operator had intercom and radio controls, as well as the controls and sight for the remote turret.

    In Airborne Intercept mode, the radar on the P-61 had a range of nearly five miles. It could also function as an airborne beacon / homing device, navigational aid, or in concert with interrogator-responder IFF units.

    The P-61's radar operator located targets on his scope and steered the unit to track them, vectoring and steering the pilot to the radar target via oral instruction and correction. Once within range, the pilot used a smaller scope integrated into the main instrument panel to track and close on the target.

    In terms of aerial combat, the P-61 Black Widow night fighters assigned to the PTO experienced a similar situation in 1945 as their European counterparts, where engagements with Japanese aircraft became sporadic. Several squadrons equipped with these night fighters claimed no kills during 1945.

    On 15 Aug 45, however, the last two aerial victories by American pilots of the war are claimed to have been scored by P-61s of the 548th Night Fighter Squadron from the island of Ie Shima.

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  • Atlantic: Day 133 of 169 of Germany's Second "Happy Time," during which U-boats sink 609 Allied ships with little risk.
    • U-106 sinks the US tanker CARRABULLE and damages the US freighter ATENAS in the center of the Gulf of Mexico, south of Louisiana.
  • Arctic: In the Barents Sea, the Luftwaffe and U-boats make a joint five-day attack on two convoys, sinking six ships.
  • ETO: The UK and the USSR sign a treaty in London with agreements that neither will seek a separate peace with Germany or sign any treaty against each other and pledge not to interfere in each other's internal affairs.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 261 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 22 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 15 of 17 of the 2nd Battle of Kharkov, Ukraine. The Soviets are forced into a small, crowded position.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 209 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
  • MTO - Libya: Day 1 of 27 of the Battle of Gazala. The Germans try to outflank the British lines. However, Free French forces at Bir Hakeim manage to hold them up.
  • East Africa: Day 22 of 186 of the Battle of Madagascar.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 164 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma. Allied troops complete their withdrawal from Burma into India after suffering 50% losses. Japanese bombers attack Imphal, India.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,785 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 12 of 124 of Japan's Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign, launched to punish anyone suspected of aiding the Doolittle raiders in China. Roughly 250,000 Chinese will be killed.
  • PTO - Malaya: Day 97 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island.

1943 — , May 26

  • ETO - Germany: The RAF bombs Düsseldorf.
  • Germany: At Peenemünde, Germany, top German leaders watch an A-4 rocket and a flying bomb being tested. The A-4 rocket flies perfectly while the flying bomb crashes only after a mile or so in flight.
  • Germany: The German government issues an order to stop assigning concentration camp victims sequential identification numbers in order to hide the true number of deaths.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 626 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 387 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket.
  • Russian Front - South: Soviet troops begin an offensive against isolated German units between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea in the Kuban area in southern Russia.
  • MTO - Italy: Day 5 of 20 of the naval and aerial bombardment of Pantelleria Island.
  • MTO - Italy: US 12th Air Force medium and heavy bombers hit the airfields in Sardinia.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,150 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 15 of 23 of the Battle of West Hubei.
  • PTO - Alaska: Day 354 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands. Day 16 of 20 of the Battle of Attu. The US continues mopping up, but the Japanese just won't surrender. US 11th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Gilbert Islands: US 7th Air Force B-24s bomb targets at Abemama.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 35 of 148 of the 2nd Battle of Lae-Salamaua. US 5th and 13th Air Forces provide air support.

1944 — , May 26

  • ETO: To the dismay of Roosevelt and Churchill, Charles de Gaulle proclaims the Free French movement to be the Provisional Government of the French Republic and gets recognition from six European nations. For this, de Gaulle is completely left out of the D-Day planning.
  • ETO - France: US 9th Air Force B-26s and A-20s attack airfields and other targets in preparation for D-Day.
  • Germany: Adolf Hitler delivers a speech at Der Platterhof hotel in Obersalzberg justifying the continuation of the war.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 115 of 191 of the Battle of the Narva Isthmus, Estonia. Both German and Soviet troops remain in their defensive positions.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 49 of 60 of the Battle of Romania, 1st Jassy Offensive.
  • MTO - Italy: Day 126 of 136 of the Battle of Anzio. RAF and US Air Forces provide air support. US troops from Anzio capture Cori, 22 miles inland. General Mark Clark decides to liberate Rome rather than cut off the retreating Germans.
  • MTO - France: US 15th Air Force B-17s and B-24s bomb several targets in southern France.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 83 of 166 of the UK's Operation THURSDAY.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 78 of 147 of the Battle of Myitkyina. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 56 of 302 of the Chinese Salween Offensive. US 14th Air Force provides air support.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,516 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 40 of 259 of Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.The Japanese launch a two-pronged attack from Canton and Hankow.
  • CBI - India: Day 80 of 118 of the Battle of Imphal-Kohima.
  • PTO - Australia: The first Australian-built Beaufighter makes its maiden flight.
  • PTO - Dutch East Indies: The USS CABRILLA attacks a Japanese convoy, sinking one transport.
  • PTO - Marshall Islands: The US 7th Air Force bombs targets in the Jaluit Atoll.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 164 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain. US 13th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 35 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 208 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands. US 13th Air Force provides air support.

1945 — , May 26

  • CBI - China: Day 2,881 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 56 of 91 of the Battle of Zhijiang. US 14th Air Force provides air support. Japanese troops begin pulling out of China.
    • Day 48 of 60 of the Battle of West Hunan (near Zhijiang). Japanese troops continue withdrawing from southern China.
  • PTO - Dutch East Indies: Day 26 of 52 of the Battle of Tarakan Island.
  • PTO - Japan: Day 56 of 83 of the Battle of Okinawa.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 516 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 400 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea. US 10th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 218 of 299 of the 2nd Battle of the Philippines, aka the Liberation of the Philippines or the Philippines Campaign.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 163 of 244 of the Battle of Luzon. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 78 of 159 of the Battle of Mindanao Island. 5th Air Force provides air support.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 70 of 135 of the Battle of the Visayas region. US 5th and 7th Air Forces provide air support.

Day-By-Day listings for May 26 were last modified on Friday, March 9, 2018
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