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Selected: December 20
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1924 — , December 20

  • Germany: Adolf Hitler is released from Landesberg Prison after serving 264 days for his role in the 8-9 Nov 1923 attempted coup called the Beer Hall Putsch. Eight years later, Hitler will be sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.
    Spotlight...

    Ex-con Adolf Hitler

    This photo was taken shortly after Hitler finished dictating "Mein Kampf" to his deputy Rudolf Hess.

    Small mention in the New York Times

    Adolph Hitler's rehabilitation is now complete, and he is "no longer to be feared," according to the article.

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1931 — , December 20

  • CBI - China: Day 94 of 154 of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria.

1936 — , December 20

  • Spain: Day 157 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.

1937 — , December 20

  • Spain: Day 522 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 167 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 12 of 54 of the Battle of Nanking.
    • Day 8 of 50 of the Rape of Nanking.

1938 — , December 20

  • Spain: Day 887 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 532 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 70 of 81 of Japan's Operation GUANGDONG.

1939 — , December 20

  • Atlantic: Captain Langsdorff of the pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE commits suicide.
  • Finland: Day 21 of 105 of the Russo-Finnish War. In southern Finland, the Soviets cease their attacks at Summa and, with the exception of the Oinala Bulge, the Finns are in control of the whole Mannerheim defensive line.
  • CBI - China: Day 897 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 36 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.

1940 — , December 20

  • ETO - UK: Day 106 of 258 of the Blitz. This time the Luftwaffe bombs Liverpool.
  • MTO - North Africa: Day 12 of 63 of the UK's Operation COMPASS, their campaign in North Africa against the Italian troops in Egypt and Libya. With the exception of prisoners, there are no more Italian troops left on Egyptian soil.
  • East Africa: Day 194 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,263 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - Thailand: Day 81 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).

1941 — , December 20

  • CBI - China: 12 days after Pearl Harbor, the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, sees its first combat against the Japanese, downing 3 of 10 bombers with no P-40s lost.
    Spotlight...

    The "Flying Tigers"

    Flight leader and fighter ace Robert "RT" Smith stands next to his P-40 fighter at Kunming, China. The "Flying Tiger" insignia, created by the Walt Disney Company, was proudly worn by General and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.

    The Walt Disney Studio created an estimated 1,200 insignias over the course of the war and assigned a crew of five studio artists to produce them.

    Dates related to the Flying Tigers...

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  • Russian Front: Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels broadcasts an appeal for winter clothing for the German troops on the Russian Front.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 104 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 80 of 98 of the Battle of Moscow. The German troops have pulled back to more than 62 miles (100 km) away from Moscow.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 52 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
  • MTO - Libya: Day 255 of 256 of the Siege of Tobruk.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 7 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,628 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 13 of 18 of the Battle of Hong Kong.
  • CBI - Malaya: Day 13 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya.
  • PTO - Marshall Islands: Day 13 of 17 of the Battle of Wake Island, aka the Alamo of the Pacific.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 13 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines.
  • PTO - Borneo: Day 5 of 107 of the Battle of Borneo.

1942 — , December 20

  • ETO: The new navigation and bombing radar aid OBOE, which uses a fixed radio beam to guide a bomber to target, is used operationally for the first time by Bomber Command.
    Spotlight...

    An OBOE control room in the UK

    OBOE proved to be a particularly accurate device, at least for the shorter range targets. Two OBOE ground stations in England sent out radio signals which the bomber carrying the OBOE equipment received and re-transmitted back. The stations monitored the aircraft's progress: One station guided the aircraft along a predetermined track, the pilot receiving signals when he deviated to port or starboard; the second station measured the aircraft's ground speed and calculated the correct moment of bomb release.

    The major limitation of OBOE was that it was a line-of-sight system; the curvature of the Earth therefore allowed it to be useful for attacking the Ruhr industrial area, but not targets deeper inside Germany.

    OBOE was extremely accurate. With an error radius of about 120 yards at a range of 250 miles, OBOE was about as good as optical bombsights.

    Late in the war it was used for humanitarian purposes to assist food drops to the Dutch still trapped under German occupation, as part of Operation MANNA. Drop points were arranged with Dutch Resistance contacts and the food canisters were dropped within about 98 feet of the aiming point, thanks to OBOE.

    It took the Germans more than a year to discover the mystery of the system. The Germans tried to jam OBOE signals, though by the time they did the British had moved on to a more sophisticated OBOE system and were using the old transmissions as a ruse.

    OBOE's other limitation was that it could only really be used by one aircraft at a time. As a result, the British rethought OBOE, and came up with a new scheme named "GEE-H" (or "G-H") based on exactly the same thinking, differing only in having the aircraft carry the transmitter and fitting ground stations with the transponder.

    The name "GEE-H" is confusing, since the scheme was very close to OBOE and not very much like GEE. The name was adopted because the system was based on GEE technologies, operating on the same range, and initially used the GEE display and calibrator. The "H" suffix came from the system using the twin-range or 'H' principle of measuring the range from transponders at two ground stations. It was about as accurate as OBOE.

    After D-day in June 1944, the advance of the Allies into the continent meant the RAF could move mobile ground stations into France to extend the range of OBOE deep into Nazi Germany.

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  • ETO - France: US 8th Air Force: B-17s and B-24s attack the Luftwaffe airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 469 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 32 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 230 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 26 of 26 of the 2nd Battle of Rzhev-Sychevka, Russia, launched by the Soviets as Operation MARS. Although the battle has ended in a stalemate, it has kept German troops from going on to Stalingrad.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 26 of 29 of the Battle of Molodoi Tud River, Russia. Ends in a stalemate but it does keep these German troops from going to Stalingrad.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 121 of 165 of the Battle of Stalingrad, bloodiest battle in human history.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 9 of 12 of Germany's Operation WINTER STORM, another failed attempt to take Stalingrad.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 9 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 34 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. US 9th Air Force provides Allied air support.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,993 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - India: Day 1 of 5 of the Japanese Bombing of Calcutta. The city is under a strict black out, but bombers of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) still manage to damage the city's infrastructure.
  • PTO - Alaska: Day 197 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
  • PTO - Malaya: Day 305 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island, a long guerrilla war ending in Japanese victory.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 32 of 66 of the Battle of Buna-Gona.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 136 of 187 of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

1943 — , December 20

  • ETO - Germany: US 8th Air Force B-17s and B-24s hit Bremen. This is the first time the 8th AF uses metal foil strips to confuse radar.
  • ETO - Germany: Day 33 of 135 of the Battle of Berlin (RAF bombing campaign). The heaviest raid of the war to date is made on Frankfurt, with more than 2,000 tons dropped by the RAF. Mosquito raiders follow half an hour later to hamper the efforts of fire fighters.
  • Spain: Dictator Francisco Franco disbands the Falangist (Fascist) Militia in Spain.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 834 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 595 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 119 of 122 of the Battle of the Lower Dnieper River, USSR. The Soviets liberate Krivoi Rog.
  • MTO: US 15th Air Force heavy bombers attack targets in Bulgaria and Greece.
  • MTO - Austria: US 15th Air Force B-24s attack the Messerschmitt plant at Augsburg and B-17s hit the marshalling yard at Innsbruck.
  • MTO - Italy: US counter intelligence reports the smashing of a Nazi spy ring in Sicily. A 19-year-old ringleader Grammatico and 27 others are arrested.
  • MTO - Italy: RAF and US Air Forces provide air support for the Allied ground units.
  • MTO - Algeria: De Lattre de Tassigny meets de Gaulle in Algiers before taking command of Army B, for liberation of France.
  • CBI - Burma: The British reach the Maungdaw plain in Arakan.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,358 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 49 of 49 of the Battle of West Changde. The battle results in a decisive Chinese victory.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 93 of 219 of the Battle of Shaggy Ridge.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 90 of 162 of the Battle of the Huon Peninsula.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 6 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 50 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands.

1944 — , December 20

  • ETO - Belgium: Day 5 of 41 of the Battle of the Bulge. 6th SS Panzer Army captures Stavelot, but in pressing on in search of allied fuel dumps, they will run out of gas, become surrounded and be forced to retreat on foot.
    Spotlight...

    A typical 6th SS Panzer Army tank, a major
    player in the Battle of the Bulge

    After members of Colonel Joachim Peiper's 6th SS Panzer Army captured Stavelot, they pressed on to Stoumont in search of Allied fuel dumps, but encountered heavy resistance there and became cut off when American troops retook Stavelot and surrounded them.

    They held out during six days of US Army bombardment and counterattacks. Out of gas and without supplies or contact with other German units behind them, Peiper decided on 24 Dec to abandon his vehicles and retreat through the woods on foot back to German lines. He left with his remaining 800 men and 36 hours later reached the German lines with 770 men, having covered 20 kilometers by foot in deep snow and freezing temperatures.

    Peiper's unit is infamous for the murder of US prisoners of war in what became known as the Malmedy Massacre.

    Related dates...

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  • ETO - France: Day 142 of 284 of the Battle of Brittany.
  • ETO - France: Day 97 of 236 of the Siege of Dunkirk.
  • ETO - Germany: Day 93 of 145 of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
  • Russian Front - Finland: Day 97 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 67 of 206 of the Battle of the Courland Pocket in Latvia.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 60 of 99 of the Siege of Memel, a border town of Lithuania and East Prussia.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 53 of 108 of the Battle of Budapest, Hungary.
  • MTO: For the fifth consecutive day, heavy bombers of the US 15th Air Force hit Axis oil production in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.
  • MTO - Italy: US and Royal Air Forces provides air support for the Allied ground units.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 264 of 302 of the Chinese Salween Offensive.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,724 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 248 of 259 of Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 359 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 243 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 62 of 299 of the 2nd Battle of the Philippines, aka the Liberation of the Philippines or the Philippines Campaign.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 62 of 73 of the Battle of Leyte.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 6 of 244 of the Battle of Luzon.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 40 of 41 of the Naval Battle of Ormoc Bay.

1951 — , December 20

  • Yugoslavia: Lepa Svetozara Radic, a 17 year old partisan girl hanged for shooting at German soldiers in early 1943, is posthumously awarded the Order of the People's Hero of Yugoslavia, becoming the youngest recipient of the honor.
    Spotlight...

    Lepa Svetozara Radic, Bosnia, 1943

    As her captors tied the noose around her neck to hang her from a tree, they offered her a way out of execution by revealing the identities of her comrades and leaders. She responded that she was not a traitor to her people and they would reveal themselves when they avenged her death.

    Note:
    We've been unable to find the date Lepa Radic was executed. Online sources either mention no date or merely say January or February of 1943.

Day-By-Day listings for December 20 were last modified on Thursday, January 28, 2016
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