USSR attacks Finland – On November 30, 1939, the Red Army crosses the Soviet-Finnish border with 465,000 men and 1,000 aircraft. Helsinki was bombed, and 61 Finns were killed in an air raid that steeled the Finns for resistance, not capitulation. The overwhelming forces arrayed against Finland convinced most Western nations, as well as the Soviets themselves, that the invasion of Finland would be a cakewalk. The Soviet soldiers even wore summer uniforms, despite the onset of the Scandinavian winter; it was simply assumed that no outdoor activity, such as fighting, would be taking place. But the Helsinki raid had produced many casualties-and many photographs, including those of mothers holding dead babies, and preteen girls crippled by the bombing. Those photos were hung up everywhere to spur on Finn resistance. Although that resistance consisted of only small numbers of trained soldiers-on skis and bicycles!–fighting it out in the forests, and partisans throwing Molotov cocktails into the turrets of Soviet tanks, the refusal to submit made headlines around the world. By March 1940, negotiations with the Soviets began, and Finland soon lost the Karelian Isthmus, the land bridge that gave access to Leningrad, which the Soviets wanted to control. This would push Finland to the German side once Operation Barbarossa took place.
At the Teheran Conference, an agreement was reached on Operation Overlord by U.S. President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The operation was the Anglo-American invasion across the English Channel.
Eastern Front Truce Signed – The new Russian revolutionary government abandons all war efforts in WWI. A truce will be signed on December 15.
Troopship Rohna Sunk – Over 1000 US troops Lost – The worst troopship disaster to befall the U.S. happened on the 26 November 1943 when German planes made a concerted attack on a military convoy in the Mediterranean. A force of 30 He-177 planes, the much delayed German long-range bomber, released 60 glider bombs at the ships but only succeeded in making one strike.
Soviets encircle Germans at Stalingrad. On November 22, 1942, a Soviet counteroffensive against the German armies pays off as the Red Army traps about a quarter-million German soldiers south of Kalach, on the Don River, within Stalingrad. As the Soviets’ circle tightened, German General Friedrich Paulus requested permission from Berlin to withdraw.
Battle of the Somme Ends. On November 18, 1916, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig calls a halt to his army’s offensive near the Somme River in northwestern France, ending the epic Battle of the Somme after more than four months of bloody conflict. With the French under heavy siege at Verdun since February, the Somme offensive was Haig’s long-planned attempt to make an Allied breakthrough on the Western Front. After a full week of artillery bombardment, the offensive began in earnest on the morning of July 1, 1916, when soldiers from 11 British divisions emerged from their trenches near the Somme River in northwestern France and advanced toward the German front lines. The initial advance was a disaster, as the six German divisions facing the advancing British mowed them down with their machine guns, killing or wounding some 60,000 men on the first day alone: the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history to that point. The failure of the advance was credited variously to the complete lack of surprise in the timing of the attack, incompetence on the part of Haig and the British command–namely, their failure to conceive that the Germans could build their trenches deep enough to protect their heavy weapons or bring them up so quickly once the artillery barrage had ended, and the inferior preparation of the British artillery, for which the infantry paid a heavy price.
Hitler furious over Italy’s debacle in Greece. On November 18, 1940, Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano over Mussolini’s disastrous invasion of Greece. Mussolini surprised everyone with a move against Greece. His ally Hitler was caught off guard since the Duce had led Hitler to believe he had no such intention. Even Mussolini’s own chief of army staff found out about the invasion only after the fact.
Britain’s Royal Air Force bombed Berlin with little success. 440 bombers were used in the raid that resulted in 131 Berliners being killed and nine British bombers were shot down and 53 aircrew members were killed.
German scientists are brought to the United States to work on rocket technology. In a move that stirs up some controversy, the United States ships 88 German scientists to America to assist the nation in its production of rocket technology. Most of these men had served under the Nazi regime and critics in the United States questioned the morality of placing them in the service of America. Nevertheless, the U.S. government, desperate to acquire the scientific know-how that had produced the terrifying and destructive V-1 and V-2 rockets for Germany during WWII, and fearful that the Russians were also utilizing captured German scientists for the same end, welcomed the men with open arms.