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Selected: December 18
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1931 — , December 18

  • CBI - China: Day 92 of 154 of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria.

1936 — , December 18

  • Spain: Day 155 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.

1937 — , December 18

  • Spain: Day 520 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 165 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 10 of 54 of the Battle of Nanking.
    • Day 6 of 50 of the Rape of Nanking.

1938 — , December 18

  • Spain: Day 885 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 530 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 68 of 81 of Japan's Operation GUANGDONG.

1939 — , December 18

  • Eastern Front: Lavrenti Beria, depraved sadist and head of the Soviet security body NKVD, orders the start of large-scale deportation of 240,000 Polish POWs to the USSR. Some 37,000 will be used as forced laborers.
    Spotlight...

    Lavrenti Beria, head of the Soviet security
    body NKVD during WWII

    Beria was a Soviet politician, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years (1946 - 1953). He continues to symbolize all the evils of Stalinism to this day, haunting the public imagination both in the West and in the former Soviet Union.

    His overconfidence in his position after Stalin's death led him to misjudge the feelings of his associates, many of whom still had relatives in his prisons. In addition, his proposals to free East Germany and normalize relations with the United States alarmed other Politburo members, especially in the wake of the 1953 East German uprising which was put down only after an invasion by Soviet troops.

    During the coup d'etat led by Nikita Khrushchev and assisted by the military forces of Marshal Georgy Zhukov, they formed an alliance to remove and kill Beria. In that same year, he was arrested on false charges of treason by Zhukov's soldiers during a meeting in which the full Politburo condemned him. The compliance of the NKVD was ensured by Zhukov's troops, and after interrogation Beria was taken to the basement of the Lubyanka and shot by General Pavel Batitsky along with Beria's most trusted associates on 23 Dec 53.

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  • ETO: The first Canadian troops arrive in Britain.
  • ETO: RAF launches another daylight raid against German shipping in the Schillig Roads, but lose 12 out of 24 bombers. This eventually causes the RAF to switch to night raids.
  • Finland: Day 19 of 105 of the Russo-Finnish War. In central Finland, the Finnish 40th Infantry forces the Soviet 273rd Infantry to retreat at Pelkosenniemi.
  • CBI - China: Day 895 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 34 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.

1940 — , December 18

  • USA: The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver carrier-based dive-bomber makes its maiden flight. 7,140 will be produced for the US Navy and the US Army Air Forces.
    Spotlight...

    Helldiver prototype on its maiden flight

    The SB2C Helldiver was much faster than the SBD Dauntless it replaced for the US Navy, but many delays marred its production. Poor handling of the aircraft was just one factor that hampered its service.

    Crew nicknames for the aircraft included the Big-Tailed Beast (or just the derogatory Beast), Two-Cee and Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class (after its designation and partly because of its reputation for having difficult handling characteristics). Neither pilots nor aircraft carrier skippers seemed to like it.

    SB2C-1s on the flight deck of USS YORKTOWN, 1943

    The US Navy would not accept the SB2C until some 880 modifications to the design and the changes on the production line had been made, delaying the Curtiss Helldiver's combat debut until 11 Nov 43.

    Most of the problems with the Helldiver were eventually ironed out, and in spite of its rough start, the aircraft was flown through the last two years of the Pacific War with a fine combat record. However, the 880 changes demanded by the Navy and modification of the aircraft to its combat role resulted in a 42% weight increase. As a result, in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 45 Helldivers were lost because they ran out of fuel returning to their carriers.

    The advent of air-to-ground rockets ensured that the SB2C was the last purpose-built dive bomber produced.[ Rockets allowed precision attack against surface naval and land targets, while avoiding the stresses of near-vertical dives and the demanding performance requirements that they placed on dive bombers.

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  • ETO - UK: Day 104 of 258 of the Blitz.
  • Germany: Hitler issues his plans for Operation BARBAROSSA, the attack against the Soviet Union.
  • MTO - North Africa: Day 10 of 63 of the UK's Operation COMPASS, their campaign in North Africa against the Italian troops in Egypt and Libya.
  • East Africa: Day 192 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,261 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - Thailand: Day 79 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).

1941 — , December 18

  • Russian Front - North: Day 102 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 78 of 98 of the Battle of Moscow.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 50 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
  • MTO - Libya: Day 253 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk. Rommel continues retreating.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 5 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma. Japanese troops move into southern Burmese territory on the Kra Isthmus and seize Victoria Point, which had been vacated by the British two days earlier.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,626 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 11 of 18 of the Battle of Hong Kong. Japanese troops land on Hong Kong island.
  • CBI - Malaya: Day 11 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya.
  • PTO - Marshall Islands: Day 11 of 17 of the Battle of Wake Island, aka the Alamo of the Pacific.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 11 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines. Japanese troops continue landing on beaches throughout the Philippines.
  • PTO - Borneo: Day 3 of 107 of the Battle of Borneo.

1942 — , December 18

  • Russian Front - North: Day 467 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 30 of 59 of the Battle of Velikiye Luki, near Leningrad. This stalemate does help ease the siege a little, but mostly it keeps German troops from being sent to other fronts.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 228 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket, USSR lays siege to the Kholm Pocket but the Germans hold out for a about a year and a half.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 24 of 26 of the 2nd Battle of Rzhev-Sychevka, Russia, launched by the Soviets as Operation MARS.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 24 of 29 of the Battle of Molodoi Tud River, Russia.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 119 of 165 of the Battle of Stalingrad, bloodiest battle in human history.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 7 of 12 of Germany's Operation WINTER STORM, another failed attempt to take Stalingrad.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 7 of 69 of the USSR's Operation LITTLE SATURN, a successful drive into the Northern Caucasus and the Donets Basin pushing the Axis troops out.
  • MTO - Tunisia: Day 32 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. US 9th and 12th Air Forces provide Allied air support.
  • MTO - Libya: British 8th Army's lead division and the New Zealand 2nd Division clash with the enemy rear guards at Nofilia.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,991 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • PTO - Alaska: Day 195 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
  • PTO - Malaya: Day 303 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island, a long guerrilla war ending in Japanese victory.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 30 of 66 of the Battle of Buna-Gona.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 134 of 187 of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

1943 — , December 18

  • Russian Front: Found guilty of war crimes, four German officers are sentenced to death at Kharkov, Ukraine.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 832 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 593 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket. USSR lays siege to the Kholm Pocket but the Germans hold out for a about a year and a half.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 117 of 122 of the Battle of the Lower Dnieper River, USSR.
  • MTO - France: US 15th Air Force B-26s bomb Var River bridges and against the Antheor viaduct.
  • MTO - Italy: RAF and US Air Forces provide air support for the Allied ground units.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,356 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 47 of 49 of the Battle of West Changde.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 91 of 219 of the Battle of Shaggy Ridge.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 88 of 162 of the Battle of the Huon Peninsula.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 4 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 48 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands.

1944 — , December 18

  • ETO - France: The Supreme Court unanimously declares that loyal citizens of the United States, regardless of cultural descent, cannot not be detained without cause.
  • ETO - France: Day 140 of 284 of the Battle of Brittany.
  • ETO - France: Day 95 of 236 of the Siege of Dunkirk.
  • ETO - Belgium: Day 3 of 41 of the Battle of the Bulge. German forces begin to bog down due to stiff resistance and lack of logistics, but mostly they are running out of fuel.
  • ETO - Germany: Day 91 of 145 of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
  • ETO - Germany: US 8th Air Force heavy bombers hit communication and tactical targets.
  • Russian Front - Finland: Day 95 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 65 of 206 of the Battle of the Courland Pocket in Latvia.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 58 of 99 of the Siege of Memel, a border town of Lithuania and East Prussia.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 51 of 108 of the Battle of Budapest, Hungary.
  • MTO: US 15th Air Force B-17s and B-24s bomb targets in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, and Hungary.
  • MTO - Italy: US and Royal Air Forces provides air support for the Allied ground units.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 262 of 302 of the Chinese Salween Offensive.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,722 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 246 of 259 of Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.
    • Eighty-four US B-29s bomb Hankow which remains on fire for three days after.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 357 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 241 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 60 of 299 of the 2nd Battle of the Philippines, aka the Liberation of the Philippines or the Philippines Campaign.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 60 of 73 of the Battle of Leyte.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 4 of 244 of the Battle of Luzon.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 38 of 41 of the Naval Battle of Ormoc Bay.

1974 — , December 18

  • Indonesia: After nearly thirty years of hiding on Morotai Island, Private Teruo Nakamura, the last known Japanese holdout of the war, is "arrested" by Indonesian soldiers. Born in 1919 on Japanese-colonized Formosa (now Taiwan), Nakamura decides to bypass Japan and be repatriated straight to Taiwan.

Day-By-Day listings for December 18 were last modified on Wednesday, January 27, 2016
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