~ Today in World War II History ~

December 24


France, the U.K. and the U.S. protest Japanese military moves in China stating that there is no evidence of any offensive intent on the part of Chinese.


American auto magnet Henry Ford denies being an anti-Semite and states that he never gave financial aid to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler or the Nazis.


The Japanese capture Hangzhou (Hangchow) in central China.


The first group of Finnish-American volunteers arrive in Finland.


In the North Sea, minesweeping trawler HMS Pelton is torpedoed and sunk by the German motor torpedo boat S-28 off Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, U.K.

British General Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief Middle East Command, sends the following message to General John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff: :We now have 88 field guns and 22 medium guns and howitzers opposite Bardia but still require further supply of ammunition. Enemy bombing continues to be active and is hampering use of Sollum harbour. Transport and water are causing difficulty. Can give no date for attack

A Christmas bonus is being distributed within the Reich - an additional 26 ounces (737 grams) of rice and vegetables, plus just over a pound of sugar, jam and coffee. But the bonus has not prevented a rash of black-market deals for food and presents. A confidential report by the SS in Dortmund this month reports that "the tracking down of game and poultry began some time ago and exorbitant prices are being demanded". Goose is costing ten Reichsmark per pound.

In an address to his fighter pilots, Hitler tells them that German U-boat successes and the neutralisation of the U.S.S.R. make victory certain.

A full Canadian corps will be formed in Britain, it was announced here today by Colonel J Saul, the Canadian defence minister. The Canadians will join an impressive array of troops now mustered under the Imperial banner. The land forces currently in action are those in East and North Africa. Sudanese, South Africans, Indians and Cypriots are embroiled in East Africa while, under General Archibald Wavell in North Africa, there are Australians, New Zealanders and Indians all fighting for a "mother country" which hardly any of them have visited.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposes an offer of military support to French authorities in North Africa.


U.S. Brigadier General Henry B. Claggett takes temporary command of U.S. Forces in Australia, pending the arrival of Major General George H. Brett from Chungking, China.

The third German submarine involved in Operation Drumbeat, U-66, sets sail from Lorient for North America.

The British defenders are split in two, and are short of water. Japanese troops capture 53 British and Canadian soldiers, rope them together, and shoot or bayonet them to death. In the village of Stanley, the Japanese attack doctors and wounded soldiers in St. Stephen's College Emergency Hospital, bayoneting more than 50 men in their beds.

The British destroyer HMS Thracian (D 86) runs aground and is captured by the Japanese. She is salvaged by the Japanese Navy, repaired and recommissioned on 25 November 1942 as Patrol Vessel No.101, then re-rated a training ship in March 1944, being attached to the torpedo school at Yokosuka. Recaptured in 1945, she is eventually broken up at Hong Kong post-war.

A detachment of the 7th Armoured Division, XIII Corps, British Eighth Army, enters Benghazi and finds that the Germans have withdrawn.

British air strength in Malaya has been reduced to 38 fighters, 40 dive bombers, 34 torpedo bombers, 17 reconnaissance aircraft and 17 others.

German submarine U-568 torpedoes and sinks the British corvette HMS Salvia (K 97) about 104 nautical miles (193 kilometers) west-northwest of Alexandria, Egypt, in position 31.46N, 28.00E. All 106 crewmen on the corvette are killed.

USN seaplane tender USS Wright (AV-1) disembarks Marine reinforcements (Batteries "A" and "C," 4th Defense Battalion).

Two U.S. merchant vessels are shelled by Japanese submarines off the coast of California:
- HIJMS I-17 shells a 5,695 ton unarmed freighter about 19 nautical miles (36 kilometers) north-northwest of Catalina Island which is about 14 nautical miles (26 kilometers) southwest of Long Beach, California. Although the freighter is abandoned, she is later reboarded and towed to San Pedro, California.
- HIJMS I-23 shells a 2,119 ton unarmed freighter off Monterey Bay south of San Francisco. The ship escapes.

On Luzon, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, releases the 4th Marine Regiment, stationed at Olongapo, to defend the beaches of Corregidor. The Japanese Lamon Bay invasion force, which constitutes the southern prong of pincers applied against Manila, goes ashore early in morning at three points—Mauban, near Atimonan, and Siam. The main assault force, in the center, secures Atimonan, forcing the defenders back toward Pagbilao. The Mauban force takes that town and pushes 5 miles (8 kilometers) west. From Siam the Japanese advance in two columns, one southewest toward Tayabas Bay and the other southeast along Route 1 toward the Japanese Legaspi detachment. The Japanese on northern Luzon consolidate their beachhead and debouch on the central plain to thrust sharply toward the Agno River line. San Fabian and Binalonan fall, 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) retiring from Binalonan across the Agno River to Tayug. The planned withdrawal toward Bataan is begun in the evening. U.S. Army, Far East headquarters, except for the rear echelon, and Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, and Francis B. Sayre, U.S. High Commissioner of the Philippines, sail to Corregidor from Manila. Fort Stotsenburg is evacuated. Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright’s North Luzon Force, disposed generally along the line Tayug-Urdaneta-San Carlos-Aquilar, from east to west, begins withdrawing toward the Agno River line. The South Luzon Force, command of which passes from Major General George M. Parker to Brigadier General Albert M. Jones, is to withdraw northward into Bataan. General Parker moves to Bataan to head the Bataan Defense Force, organized to prepare defensive positions. In the Sulu Archipelago, the Japanese invade Jolo Island in the evening against light resistance from the constabulary. Jolo Island is located about half way between Borneo and Mindanao Island.

Three USAAF Far East Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses fly from Del Monte Field, Mindanao Island during the night of 24/25 December, bomb the airfield and shipping at Davao on Mindanao Island and land at Batchelor Field near Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. Two USN PBY Catalinas leave Manila, Luzon, for Darwin with personnel of HQ Far East Air Force. Army Air Forces units on Luzon, as well as ground forces, begin moving to Bataan Peninsula.

Free French Naval Forces take possession of the two islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the south coast of Newfoundland without firing a shot. A strong protest is lodged by U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull but after several weeks of bickering between U.S., Canadian and British diplomats and "the so called Free French" as Hull describes them the coup remains a fait accompli.

The Avro Lancaster Mk. I enters service with No. 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, England. The Lancaster does not make its operational debut until 3 March 1942.

The USN commissions the light cruiser USS Atlanta (CL-51) at the New York, New York Naval Shipyard. The USN now has 20 light cruisers in commission.


French Admiral Jean Darlan, High Commissioner for North Africa, is assassinated in his Algiers office by Bonnier de la Chappelle, a Charles de Gaulle follower who was training to be a British agent. Due to his ties with the Vichy French government, Admiral Darlan was not a popular appointment with the Free French and his death avoids political controversy in the Allied camp. "Darlan's murder, however criminal, relieved the Allies of their embarrassment at working with him," admitted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The nature and background of this act will be debated over the years. de la Chapelle is tried by a secret military court and summarily executed.

A decision is made at conference between U.S. Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Force, and Lieutenant General Kenneth A. N. Anderson, General Officer Commanding British First Army, to abandon the attack on Tunis, Tunisia, until after the rainy season.

On New Britain Island, USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb the harbor at Arawe on the western tip of the island while B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24s hit shipping and the airfield at Gasmata on the southern coast. A Japanese netlayer is sunk by the B-24s and a transport is sunk by the B-17s.

The Japanese advances in two areas of the Chin Hills are repelled by Allied troops.

National Defence says there are now 681,615 volunteers and conscripts in the Canadian forces.

The first Fieseler Fi 103 (V1 "Buzz Bomb") is catapulted from Peenemunde West and makes a flight of 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).

During the night of 24/25 December, RAF Bomber Command dispatches three Oboe Mosquitos to attack German targets. One bombs Dusseldorf and one each bomb steel factories at Essen and Meiderich. The Essen bombs fell on the northern parts of the Krupps factory.

After an artillery preparation in Papua New Guinea, the Urbana Force, employing the U.S. 127th Infantry Regiment, 32d Infantry Division, begins a drive toward the sea through Government Gardens, where Japanese defenses are organized in depth and concealed by high kunai grass. Progress is very slow. A platoon of Company L discovers a weak spot and drives through to a line of coconut trees near the coast; is surrounded there and suffers heavy casualties before escaping by a circuitous route. As a diversion, elements move to the Mission side of creek from Musita Island and from shallows between Buna Village and Buna Mission, but withdraw because of intense opposition. The Warren Force opens an attack on Old Strip after an artillery preparation. The Australian 2/10th Battalion, 18th Brigade, 7th Division, disposed along the northern edge of the strip, is supported by three Australian-manned U.S. M3 Stuart light tanks while making their main effort. The 1st Battalions of the U.S. 126th and 128th Infantry Regiments attack in parallel columns along the southern edge of the strip; later the 1st Battalion of the 128th Infantry Regiment follows the 1st Battalion of the 126th. The attack gains some 450 yards (411 meters), but Japanese fire prevents movement onto the strip and knocks out the three tanks.

In Papua New Guinea, USAAF Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs strafe troops near Kel Kel and along the northern bank of the Amboga River and trail. B-24 Liberators, operating singly, bomb Lae and a schooner in Vitiaz Strait.

On Guadalcanal, the 3d Battalion, 132d Infantry Regiment Americal Division, followed by the 1st Battalion in reserve, moves west without incident to Hill 31, west of the summit of Mt Austen; upon attacking south toward Hill 27, they are stopped short by fire from a Japanese strongpoint, called Gifu, between Hills 31 and 27. The Gifu position, with fixed defenses and interconnecting pillboxes, is held by about 500 Japanese troops.

Nine USMC SBD Dauntlesses and four F4F Wildcats and nine USAAF P-39 Airacobras and four P-38 Lightnings attack the airstrip at Munda on New Georgia Island.; the Americans claim ten "Zekes" fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) as they are taking off. The SBDs destroy ten "Zekes" on the ground. There are no US losses.

The British First Army regains positions on Djebel el Ahmera hill.

Four USAAF Twelfth Air Force P-40s attack a bridge north of Gabes.

The first P-47 Thunderbolts arrive in England for the USAAF Eighth Air Force however, because of VHF radio and engine difficulties, the P-47s are not sent into combat until April 1943.

The Germans lose their last remaining landing ground in the Stalingrad pocket, when Tatsinskaya is overrun by Soviet tanks. The German relief column finds itself pushed back as the Soviets recapture Generalovsky. The Soviet 62nd Army receives fresh reinforcements and retakes the Red October Tractor Factory in Stalingrad. Following the suspension of Operation WINTER TEMPEST, the relief of Stalingrad, the Red Army begins an offensive against German Army Group Don toward Kotelnikovo, breaking through the lines of the 4th Romanian Army.

Pope Pius XII makes another of his many calls for the more humane conduct of hostilities during a lengthy Christmas message over Vatican Radio. Humanity, he says, owed the resolution of a better world to "the hundreds of thousands who, without personal guilt, sometimes for no other reason than their nationality or descent, were doomed to death or exposed to a progressive deterioration of their condition."


The USN hunter-killer Task Group 21.14, formed around the escort aircraft carrier USS Card (CVE-11), is spotted by a German reconnaissance aircraft and the wolfpack Borkum is ordered to attack. The carrier has a narrow escape when three G7 T5 "Gnat" FAT torpedoes fired by U-415 misses her. The same U-boat also misses the destroyer USS Decatur (DD 341) with a "Gnat". Several hours later, U-275 fires a "Gnat" at the destroyer USS Leary (DD 158) and hits her on the starboard side in the after engine room. A second "Gnat" fired by U-382 misses the already sinking destroyer. She sinks about 467 nautical miles (865 kilometers) north-northeast of Lagens Field, Azores Island in position 45.15N, 21.40W, after a huge internal explosion within one minute; 97 of the 149 crewmen are lost.
The German submarine U-645 is sunk about 462 nautical miles (856 kilometers) north-northeast of Lagens Field, Azores Islands, in position 45.20N, 21.40W, by depth charges from the USN destroyer USS Schenck (DD-159); all 55 crewmen are lost.
British destroyer HMS Hurricane (H 06) is struck by a G7s T5 Zaunkoning ("Gnat") torpedo fired by German submarine U-415 and sinks about 444 nautical miles (823 kilometers) north-northeast of Lagens Field, Azores Islands. The destroyer is serving with the 1st Escort Group escorting the combined convoy OS-62/KMS-36 (U.K. to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt) and supporting the task force of the American escort carrier USS Card (CVE-11).
On New Britain Island, the pre-invasion bombing effort against Cape Gloucester reaches its peak as nearly 190 USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators, B-25 Mitchells, and A-20 Havocs attack the area in a day-long bombardment; P-39 Airacobras hit a disabled destroyer offshore; and Japanese forces in Arawe area are hit by A-20s.
On New Britain Island, 18 USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb Vunakanau Airfield at Rabaul; six others hit Lakunai; fighter cover for the strike fights a fierce air action with interceptors, claiming 25 shot down; seven Allied fighters are lost.
USN F6F Hellcat, USAAF P-38 Lighting and New Zealand (P-40) Kittyhawk fighter pilots shoot down 27 Japanese “Zeke” fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) over Rabaul, New Britain Island, during the day; seven Allied fighters, including five New Zealand Kittyhawks, are lost.
In the Hukawng Valley, the 1st Battalion, 114th Regiment, Chinese 38th Division, after artillery preparation, attacks to relieve the beleaguered 1st Battalion of the 112th Regiment in the Yupbang Ga area and succeeds in joining it, although the Japanese retain positions west of the river blocking the crossing at Yupbang Ga.
Eighteen USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb a Tien Ho satellite airfield. The B-24s and 18 escorting fighters claim 20 interceptors shot down. One B-24 is lost over the target.
>USAAF Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb Atamboea Airfield on Timor Island in the Netherlands East Indies.
The USAAF Eighth Air Force’s VIII Bomber Command flies Mission 164 against 23 V-1 weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area of France: 478 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 192 B-24 Liberators hit the targets at 1330-1510 hours without loss. This is the largest number of aircraft carrying out attacks of any Eighth Air Force mission to date and the first of its major strikes against missile sites. The bombers are escorted by 40 P-38 Lightnings, 459 P-47 Thunderbolts and 42 USAAF Ninth Air Force P-51 Mustangs.
Over 60 USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders attack NOBALL (V-1 missile sites) targets in Pas de Calais area. Over 30 B-26s abort due to bad weather.
In the British Eighth Army’s XIII Corps area, the New Zealand 2nd Division, moving to outflank Orsogna, reaches the heights commanding that town on the northeast.
Over 100 USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-26 Marauders dispatched to bomb the Pisa marshalling yard fail to locate the target due to overcast while 24 B-26s bomb the marshalling yard at Cecina. (Jack McKillop)
Eighteen USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators, staging through the Gilbert Islands from the Ellice Islands, bomb Wotje Atoll.
No RAF Bomber Command bombing raids are carried out on Christmas Eve but 30 Halifaxes lay mines in the Frisian Islands and return without loss.
In Northeast New Guinea, the Australian 2/13th Battalion, 20th Brigade, 9th Division, enters Wandokai without opposition. The Japanese had intended to defend the town but they evacuated last night fearing an Australian landing in their rear.
USAAF Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs sweep the Northeast New Guinea coastline.
During a five hour attack, the USN destroyer escort USS Griswold (DE-7) sinks Japanese submarine HIJMS I-39 about 6 nautical miles east-northeast of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands, in position 09.23S, 160.09E. All crewmen on the submarine are lost.
With the elimination of Japanese troops on the heights about the beachhead perimeter on Bougainville, the airfields are secure.
Twenty four USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells attack seaplane anchorage at Bonis on Bougainville. New Zealand (PV-1) Venturas on armed reconnaissance bomb barges and troops on northern Bougainville and claim two fighters shot down east of Cape Saint George. (Jack McKillop)
A U.S. naval Task Force of three cruisers, USS Cleveland (CL-53), Columbia (CL-56) and St. Louis (CL-49), and four destroyers bombards Japanese positions on Buka Island and Buin on Bougainville. Their primary purpose is a diversion from the upcoming landings on New Britain Island, Bismarck Archipelago.
Secret negotiations begin in Stockholm between Marshal Antonescu's Romanian emissaries and the Soviet Embassy.
The USAAF Eighth Air Force now has 26 heavy bomber (104 squadrons) operational with B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators.
The following appointments are announced: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander of the British and United States Expeditionary Forces; General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater; General Sir Harold Alexander, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies in Italy; General Bernard Montgomery, Commander in Chief of the British Group of Armies under General Eisenhower; U.S. General Carl Spaatz, Commander of United States Strategic Bombing Forces operating against Germany.
In the Vitebsk sector, the Red Army overruns Gorodok in a two-pronged attack, bringing about the collapse of a whole series of defense points that depend upon it. At dawn, the Soviet forces open a new offensive; driving along the axis of the Kiev-Zhitomir highway, they breach German lines and soon recover ground lost to a German counteroffensive and more. The defending German 4th Panzer Army will be penetrated deeply due to overstretched German units and the lack of reserves.
Now with the defeat of Nazi Germany almost certain, Pope Pius XII in his Christmas message acknowledges "that a democratic form of government is considered by many today to be a natural postulate of reason itself."


A paper Japanese Fu Go balloon with the usual equipment lands at Holy Cross, Territory of Alaska. Holy Cross is located in southwestern Alaska about 235 miles (378 kilometers) southeast of Nome.

In the English Channel, the 11,509 ton Belgian troopship SS Leopoldville is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-486 about 7.5 nautical miles (13,8 kilometers) north-northeast of Cherbourg, France, in position 49.45N, 01.34W. The ship is carrying U.S. soldiers across the English Channel to France, a trip she had done 24 times before. On this Christmas Eve the ship is carrying 2,235 men of the 64th Infantry Regiment, 66th Infantry Division, which had left New York City on 14 November. Official records put the number of men lost at 802 but the exact number is not known due to the hurried departure at 0900 hours from Southampton, England and the unorganized boarding procedures. Everything that could go wrong does; calls for help are mishandled, rescue craft are slow to the scene and the weather is unfavorable. As no life jackets are issued, the men of the Leopoldville die in the cold 48 degree Fahrenheit (9 degrees Centigrade) waters of the English Channel. Most of her crew take off in the lifeboats, deserting the troops on board. The ship’s captain, Captain Limbor, is the only officer lost. The few survivors are rescued by the British destroyer HMS Brilliant (H 84) and transferred to the St. Nazaire/Lorient, France, area but 493 bodies are never found, presumably going down with the ship. The wreck of the Leopoldville lies on her port side in 180 feet (55 meters) of water in a remarkable state of preservation, in an area now used for testing nuclear submarines. The Allied authorities are embarrassed by the incident and decide to bury the case. Many loved ones are told the men were missing in action although they are already dead by then, later to be classified as killed in action. It was not until 1996 that the files are opened to the public.

The Canadian minesweeper HMCS Clayoquot (J 174) is struck by a G7s T5 Zaunkoning (Gnat) torpedo fired by German submarine U-806 while she is escorting the convoy XB-139 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, to Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and sinks about 17 nautical miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Halifax in position 44.25N, 63.20W. Eight of her crew are lost.

In the British Second Army's XXX Corps area, the 29th Armored Brigade clashes with German spearheads between Dinant and Ciney.

In U.S. First Army's V Corps area, the 1st Infantry Division repels another German bid for Butgenbach. The 5th Armored Division closes in the Eupen area and is held in reserve. In the XVIII Corps (Airborne) area, the 30th Infantry Division overruns La Gleize and releases Combat Command B, 3d Armored Division. The 82d Airborne Division is under strong pressure in the Manhay area; loses Manhay, although elements of the 7th Armored Division are pressed into action in that region. In the VII Corps area, the Germans reduce the 3d Armored Division's roadblock at Belle Haie, on the road to Manhay; Combat Command R columns attacking east from Hotton and west from Soy clear the Hotton-Soy road. Elements of the 75th Infantry Division enter combat for the first time: Regimental Combat Teams 290 and 289 are attached respectively to Combat Command R and Combat Command A, 3d Armored Division. In the 84th Infantry Division zone, the Germans drive through Verdenne.

Combat Command A, 2d Armored Division, reaches Buissonville; the 4th Cavalry Group (Mechanized), attached to the 2d Armored Division to cover its assembly and maintain contact with adjacent units, makes contact with the British at Sorinne.

In the U.S. Third Army's VIII Corps area, heavy fighting continues around Bastogne perimeter. The city is badly damaged by air attacks but 160 USAAF IX Troop Carrier Command C-47 Skytrains drop 160 tons (145 metric tonnes) of supplies. The 11th Armored Division, released from Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) reserve to the corps on yesterday, is held in mobile reserve west of the Meuse River. Combat engineers are guarding the Meuse River line and blocking approaches to bridges. The 17th Airborne Division is being flown to France from England and subsequently operates under VIII Corps. In the III Corps area, Combat Command B of the 4th Armored Division is meeting lively opposition south of Chaumont, as is Combat Command A at Warnock; The 6th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) (Task Force Fickett) arrives from the XX Corps front to guard west flank of corps in Neufchateau area.

"Towards midnight of 24/25 December, several German planes appeared over Bastogne and dropped some bombs. (On the evening of 25 December, it became known that this bombing venture was to be the promised air support for the entire attack!)"

Twenty three USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb Chichi Jima Island. (Jack McKillop)

In the British Fourteenth Army's XXXIII Corps area, the British 2d and Indian 20th Divisions overcome strong opposition in Pyingaing.

Thirty eight USAAF Tenth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolts hit troop concentrations and supply areas at Pangkai, Man Namman, Man Om, Mong Nge, and Kyanhnyat; six support ground forces in the Si-U sector while 12 hit targets of opportunity along the Sinlum-Nawghkio rail line; and eight P-47s strafe the Lashio Airfield..

Six USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells blast the Kunlong ferry area and three B-24 Liberators claim a tanker sunk in the South China Sea. Over 100 P-40s, P-51 Mustangs, and P-38 Lightnings on armed reconnaissance attack targets of opportunity throughout southern China, especially river, road, and rail traffic, troops, and buildings around Hengyang, Lingling, Siangtan, and Changsha. Hong Kong area shipping is attacked (a tanker claimed sunk and other ships damaged) and over 30 Japanese aircraft claimed destroyed at Tsinan Airfield.

USAAF Far East Air Forces attack Kudat Airfield in North Borneo and B-25 Mitchells and fighter-bombers attack the Goeroea area in the Moluccas Islands of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Again FEAF aircraft on miscellaneous small operations attack many targets throughout the NEI.

HQ 6th Army Group warns that the Germans are massing for an offensive. (Jack McKillop)

In the French Army's II Corps area, the U.S. 3d Infantry Division clears Bennwihr, concluding operations in the Colmar sector.

The USAAF Eighth Air Force flies Mission 759: Ten B-24 Liberators hit the La Pallice coastal battery in France without loss.

In the U.S. Ninth Army's XIX Corps area, the 83d Infantry Division, in limited attacks, clears about two thirds of Winden and the 8th Infantry Division improves positions near Obermaubach. The 104th Infantry Division takes responsibility for the northern part of the 83d Infantry Division zone, turning over its positions in the Inden-Pier-Schophoven region to the 29th Infantry Division.

A high pressure front across western Europe brings clear weather and the USAAF Eighth Air Force launches Mission 760, a maximum effort against airfields and communications in western Germany. This was the largest air strike of the war with 2,034 heavy bombers (1,400 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 634 B-24 Liberators) and 853 fighters dispatched; they bomb over 65 targets and claim 92-6-21 Luftwaffe aircraft; 12 bombers and ten fighters are lost. The targets are (numbers in parenthesis indicate number of aircraft bombing and number lost, e.g., 97-1):

- Airfields hit: Griesheim at Darmstadt (175-0), Rheine Main at Frankfurt-am-Main (141-0), Merzhausen (115-0), Giessen (97-1), Biblis (86-0), Babenhausen (84-3), Zellhausen (83-3), Gross Ostheim (74-1), Kirch Gons (71-0) Ettinghausen (39-0) and Nidda (29-0).

- Communications centers hit: Wittlich (62-0), Mayen (60-0), Arhweiler (49-0), Bitburg (34-0), Schoneken (30-1), Ruwer and Pflazel (28-0), Daun (24-0), Rheinbach (17-0), Cochem (11-0), Prum (9-0) and Blumenthal (8-0).

- Marshalling yards (M/Ys) hit: Mosel M/Y at Koblenz (83-0), Gerolstein (69-0) Euskirchen (62-1), Kaiserslautern (39-0), Pforzheim (36-0) and Darmstadt (14-0).

- Railroad bridges and junctions hit: Eller (32-0), Ober and Rheinbach (9-0), and Mayen (1-0).

- 171 other bombers hit industrial area and targets of opportunity.

Two hundred seventy six USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs hit rail bridges and communications centers in western Germany.

During the day, RAF Bomber Command dispatches 338 aircraft, 248 Halifaxes, 79 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos, to attack Lohausen Airfield at Dusseldorf and Mülheim Airfield at Essen; 164 aircraft bomb Lohausen and 160 hit Mülheim. The purpose of the raids is not recorded; it is possible that they were to hinder the movement of supplies by transport aircraft from the Ruhr to the Ardennes battle area. Both attacks take place in conditions of good visibility and the bombing is accurate. Six aircraft are lost, two Lancasters and a Halifax from the Lohausen raid and three Halifaxes from the Mülheim raid.

During the night of 24/25 December, 104 RAF Bomber Command Lancasters are dispatched to bomb Hangelar Airfield at Bonn; 100 hit the target with the loss of one Lancaster. No results are known. In a second raid, 97 Lancasters and five Mosquitos are sent to bomb the Nippes marshalling yard at Cologne; 94 bomb the target with the loss of five Lancasters and two others crash in England. The Oboe marking and the resultant bombing are extremely accurate. The railway tracks are severely damaged and an ammunition train blows up. The nearby Butzweilerhof airfield is also damaged. In a third mission, two Mosquitos are sent to bomb Munster; one bombs the city.

The Red Army narrows the German escape gap from Budapest to less than 20 miles (32 kilometers). Moscow reveals that the Third Ukrainian Front, in a three-day-old offensive, has achieved a breakthrough southwest of Budapest in the Lake Velencei-Danube River sector and has surged forward 25 miles (40 kilometers), overrunning more than 160 towns and villages; with the capture of Szekesfehervar and Biske, key points in the outer defenses of Budapest, the western escape routes from the besieged city are closed. Other troops of this front are pushing in on Budapest from the southwest.

The Japanese fly their last bombing raid against Calcutta.

Weather again holds USAAF Twelfth Air Force operations to a minimum however, P-47 Thunderbolts carry out very successful raid on Thiene Airfield in northeastern Italy, causing considerable damage and destroying several German airplanes; other missions find little activity and result in the destruction of only a few trucks and trains.

In the U.S. Third Army’s III Corps area, Combat Command R seizes Bigonville. The 318th Infantry Regiment (—), 80th Infantry Division, is attached to the 4th Armored Division.; the 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron is assigned the sector between 4th Armored and 26th Infantry Divisions. The 26th Infantry Division secures Rambrouch and Koetschette but is held up at Arsdorf and Hierheck. The 80th Infantry Division contains determined counterattacks. In the XII Corps area, the 5th Infantry Division, to which Regimental Combat Team 10 has reverted, relieves the left flank elements of 4th Infantry Division and attacks toward HaIler and Waldbillig, making slow progress. The 2d Cavalry Group (Mechanized), designated Task Force Reed, relieves the right flank units of 4th Infantry Division along the Moselle River. Combat Command A, 10th Armored Division, captures Gilsdorf and Mostroff on the Sauer River.

RAF Bomber Command sends 12 Halifaxes to lay mines off Oslo; all complete the mission without loss.

In the U.S. Sixth Army's X Corps area on Leyte, the 1st Cavalry Division continues steadily west against scattered resistance, the 12th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry) wading swamps in its sector. The 32d Infantry Division, with the 127th and 128th Infantry Regiments in assault, starts west toward the coast on northern flank of the corps, slowed more by terrain than resistance. In the XXIV Corps area, the 1st Battalion (reinforced), 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division, embarks at Ormoc and at 2000 hours sails for Palompon, the convoy protected by motor torpedo boats (PTs). The 305th Infantry Regiment, less the 1st Battalion, is lightly opposed as it continues west along the road to Palompon.

USAAF Far East Air Forces B-24 Liberators bomb Clark Field on Luzon Island and Puerto Princesa Airfield on Palawan Island. B-25 Mitchells bomb Silay Airfield on Negros Island and on Mindanao Island, hit San Roque barracks, the Zamboanga waterfront, and Davao Bay shipping. Again FEAF aircraft on miscellaneous small operations attack many targets throughout the Philippine Islands. P-47 Thunderbolt pilots shoot down 33 Japanese fighters over Luzon between 1015 and 1150 hours; four P-47s are lost.

During the night of 24/25 December, a Japanese bomber destroys a 100,000 U.S. gallon (83,267 Imperial gallons or 379 kiloliters) aviation storage tank at Hill Field on Mindoro Island. As a result, flight operations are restricted from this base for several weeks.

Office of Price Administration Administrator Chester Bowles announces that canned peas, corn, green and wax beans, asparagus and spinach will be rationed beginning 1 January 1945. At the same time, beef rationing is reintroduced.

Fifty USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators from the Mariana Islands strike Iwo Jima and 17 P-38 Lightnings make a low-level strafing attack on the island. During the night of 24/25 December, two B-24s fly harassment strikes over Iwo Jima.

The USAAF Twentieth Air Force's XXI Bomber Command flies Mission 15: 29 Mariana Island-based B-29 Superfortresses are dispatched to attack two airfields on Iwo Jima; 23 hit the primary targets and one hits an alternate target without loss.

USN Task Group 94.9, the heavy cruisers USS Chester (CA-27), Pensacola (CA-24) and Salt Lake City (CA-25), and nine destroyers, follows the USAAF bombing raids on Iwo Jima by shelling the airstrips and other installations there; destroyers USS Case (DD-370) and Roe (DD-418) sink Japanese fast transport T.8 and landing ship T.157.

The remains of General George S. Patton Jr. are interred at the American Cemetery at Hamm. UNITED STATES:
The top songs on the pop music charts are: "It Might as Well Be Spring" by The Sammy Kaye Orchestra with vocal by Billy Williams; "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby; "It's Been a Long, Long Time" by The Harry James Orchestra with vocal by Kitty Kallen; and "Silver Dew on the Blue Grass Tonight" by Bob Wills.

[ Back ]