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Operation Fall Achse
Operation Fall Achse, originally called Operation Alaric (German: Unternehmen Alarich), was the codename for the German plan to forcibly disarm the Italian armed forces after the armistice with the Allies in 1943. Several German divisions had entered Italy after the fall of Benito Mussolini in July 1943, while Italy was officially still an ally of Germany, despite the protests of the new Italian government under Pietro Badoglio.
The Armistice of Cassibile was made public on 8 September. German forces moved rapidly to take over the Italian zones of occupation in the Balkans and southern France and to disarm Italian forces in Italy. In some cases, the Italian troops, that had no superior orders and suffered many desertions, resisted the Germans, most notably in the Greek island of Cephalonia, where over 5,100 men of the 33rd Acqui Division were massacred after running out of ammunition and surrendering; in Rome, after the royal family and the government had fled, a disorganized defense by the Italian troops stationed around the capital was unable to defeat the German attack. Additionally, individual soldiers or whole units, like the 24th Pinerolo Division in Thessaly, went over to the local resistance movements. Only in Sardinia, Corsica, Calabria and in the southern part of Apulia were Italian troops able to offer successful resistance and hold off the Germans until relieved by the arrival of the Allies.
Operation Husky – Battle of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major campaign of World War II, in which the Allies took the island of Sicily from the Axis powers of Italy and Nazi Germany. It began with a large amphibious and airborne operation, followed by a six-week land campaign, and this initiated the Italian Campaign.
Husky began on the night of 9–10 July 1943, and ended on 17 August. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners; the Allies drove Axis air, land and naval forces from the island and the Mediterranean sea lanes were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941. The Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, was toppled from power in Italy and the way was opened for the Allied invasion of Italy. The German leader, Adolf Hitler, canceled a major offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy, resulting in a reduction of German strength on the Eastern Front. The collapse of Italy necessitated German troops replacing the Italians in Italy and to a lesser extent the Balkans, resulting in one-fifth of the entire German army being diverted from the east to southern Europe, a proportion that would remain until near the end of the war.
Operation Kutuzov was the first of the two counteroffensives launched by the Red Army as part of the Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation. It commenced on 12 July 1943, in the Central Russian Upland, against Army Group Center of the German Wehrmacht. The operation was named after General Mikhail Kutuzov, the Russian general credited with saving Russia from Napoleon during the French invasion of Russia in 1812. Operation Kutuzov was one of two large-scale Soviet operations launched as counteroffensives against Operation Citadel. The Operation began on 12 July and ended on 18 August 1943 with the capture of Orel and the collapse of the Orel bulge.
The objective of Operation Lila was to capture intact the units of the French fleet at Toulon and was carried out by the 7th Panzer Division, augmented with units from other divisions. Four combat groups including two armored groups and a motorcycle battalion from 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich were entrusted with the mission. To prevent the French naval units scuttling themselves, Marine detachment Gumprich was assigned to one of the groups.
Operation Market Garden*
Operation Market Garden, 17–25 September 1944, was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time.
Field Marshal Montgomery’s goal was to force an entry into Germany over the Lower Rhine. He wanted to circumvent the northern end of the Siegfried Line and this required the operation to seize the bridges across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine) as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the Lower Rhine would allow the Allies to encircle Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr from the north. It made large-scale use of airborne forces, whose tactical objectives were to secure the bridges and allow a rapid advance by armored units into Northern Germany.
Several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured at the beginning of the operation but Gen. Horrocks’ XXX Corps ground force advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, an extremely overstretched supply line at Son, and failure to capture the main road bridge over the river Waal before 20 September. At Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division encountered far stronger resistance than anticipated. In the ensuing battle, only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them, they were overrun on 21 September. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated on 25 September. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine insufficient force and the river remained a barrier to their advance until offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees, and Wesel in March 1945. The failure of Market Garden ended Allied expectations of finishing the war by Christmas 1944.
Operation RHEINÜBUNG – BETRIEB RHEINÜBUNG – Go to this Link
Operation Spring was an offensive operation conducted by II Canadian Corps during the Normandy campaign. The plan was intended to create pressure on the German forces operating on the British and Canadian front simultaneously to American offensive operations in their sector known as Operation Cobra, an attempt to break out from the Normandy lodgement. Specifically, Operation Spring was intended to capture Verrières Ridge and the towns on the south slope of the ridge. However, strong German defenses on the ridge, as well as strict adherence to a defensive doctrine of counterattacks, stalled the offensive on the first day, inflicting heavy casualties on the attacking forces, while preventing a breakout in the Anglo-Canadian sector.
Operation Tempest (Polish: akcja „Burza”, sometimes referred in English as Operation Storm) was a series of anti-Nazi uprisings conducted during World War II by the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), the dominant force in the Polish resistance.
Operation Tempest was aimed at seizing control of cities and areas occupied by the Germans while they were preparing their defenses against the advancing Soviet Red Army. Polish underground civil authorities aimed at taking power before the arrival of the Soviets.
Operation Winter Storm – Unternehmen Wintergewitter
Operation Winter Storm (German: Unternehmen Wintergewitter), a German offensive in December 1942 during World War II, involved the German 4th Panzer Army failing to break the Soviet encirclement of the German 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad.
In late November 1942, the Red Army had completed Operation Uranus, encircling some 300,000 Axis personnel in and around the city of Stalingrad. German forces within the Stalingrad Pocket and directly outside were reorganized on 22 November 1942 into Army Group Don and placed under the command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. The Red Army continued to allocate as many resources as possible to the planned Operation Saturn to isolate Army Group A from the rest of the German Army. To remedy the situation, the Luftwaffe attempted to supply German forces in Stalingrad through an air bridge. When the Luftwaffe failed and it became obvious that a breakout could only succeed if launched as early as possible, Manstein decided on a relief effort.
Originally, Manstein was promised four panzer divisions. Due to German reluctance to weaken certain sectors by redeploying German units, the task of opening a corridor to the encircled German 6th Army fell to the 4th Panzer Army. The German force was pitted against several Soviet armies tasked with the destruction of the encircled German forces and their offensive around the lower Chir River.
The German offensive caught the Red Army by surprise and made large gains on the first day. The spearhead forces enjoyed air support and defeated counterattacks by Soviet troops. By 13 December, Soviet resistance had slowed the German advance considerably. Although German forces took the area surrounding Verkhne-Kumskiy, the Red Army launched Operation Little Saturn on 16 December and crushed the Italian 8th Army on Army Group Don’s left flank, threatening the survival of Manstein’s force. As resistance and casualties increased, Manstein appealed to Hitler and to the commander of the German 6th Army, General Friedrich Paulus, to allow the 6th Army to break out of Stalingrad; both refused. The 4th Panzer Army continued its attempt to open a corridor to the 6th Army on 18–19 December but was unable to do so without the aid of forces inside the Stalingrad pocket. Manstein called off the assault on 23 December and by Christmas Eve the 4th Panzer Army began to withdraw to its starting position. Due to the failure of the 6th Army to break out from the Soviet encirclement, the Red Army could continue the strangulation of German forces in Stalingrad.
The Peking Plan (or Operation Peking) was an operation in which three destroyers of the Polish Navy, the Burza (Storm), Błyskawica (Lightning), and Grom (Thunder), were evacuated to the United Kingdom in late August and early September 1939. They were ordered to travel to British ports and assist the British Royal Navy in the event of a war with Nazi Germany. The plan was successful and allowed the ships to avoid certain destruction or capture in the German invasion.
The Prague uprising (Czech: Pražské povstání) was an attempt by the Czech resistance to liberate the city of Prague from German occupation during World War II. Events began on May 5, 1945, in the last moments of the war in Europe. The uprising went on until May 8, 1945, ending in a German victory and ceasefire. One day after the Germans conquered Prague, they surrendered on the arrival of the Red Army.
The Ruhr Pocket was a battle of encirclement that took place in April 1945, on the Western Front near the end of World War II, in the Ruhr Area of Germany. Some 317,000 German troops, consisting mostly of unarmed Volksturm militia and Hitlerjugend units were taken prisoner along with 24 generals. The Americans suffered 10,000 casualties including 2,000 killed or missing.
Exploiting the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen on 7 March, the U.S. 12th Army Group under General Omar Bradley advanced rapidly into German territory south of Field Marshal Walter Model’s Army Group B. In the north, the Allied 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery crossed the Rhine in Operation Plunder on 23 March. The lead elements of the two Allied army groups linked up on 1 April 1945 east of the Ruhr Area to create a massive encirclement of 370,000 German troops to their west.
While the bulk of the U.S. forces advanced east towards the Elbe river, some 18 U.S. divisions remained behind to destroy the isolated forces of Army Group B. The reduction of the German pocket was begun right away on 1 April by the U.S. Ninth Army, with the forces of the U.S. First Army joining on 4 April. For 13 days, the Germans delayed or resisted the U.S. advance. On 14 April, the First and Ninth Armies linked up, splitting the German pocket in half and German resistance began to crumble.
Having lost contact with its units, the German 15th Army capitulated the same day. Model dissolved his army group on 15 April and ordered the Volksturm and non-combatant personnel to discard their uniforms and go home. On 16 April, the bulk of the German forces surrendered en masse to the U.S. divisions. Organized resistance came to an end on 18 April. Unwilling to surrender with his rank of Field Marshal into Allied captivity, Model committed suicide on the afternoon of 21 April.
Siege of Breslau
The Battle of Breslau, also known as the Siege of Breslau, was a three-month-long siege of the city of Breslau in Lower Silesia, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), lasting to the end of World War II in Europe. From 13 February 1945 to 6 May 1945, German troops in Breslau were besieged by the Soviet forces which encircled the city as part of the Lower Silesian Offensive Operation. The German garrison’s surrender on 6 May was followed by the surrender of all German forces two days after the battle.
Siege of Malta
The Siege of Malta was a military campaign in the Mediterranean Theatre of the Second World War. From 1940–42, the fight for the control of the strategically important island of Malta pitted the air forces and navies of Italy and Germany against the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
The opening of a new front in North Africa in mid-1940 increased Malta’s already considerable value. British air and sea forces based on the island could attack Axis ships transporting vital supplies and reinforcements from Europe. General Erwin Rommel, in de facto field command of Axis forces in North Africa, recognized its importance quickly. In May 1941, he warned that “Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa”.
The Axis resolved to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns, cities, and Allied shipping supplying the island. Malta was one of the most intensively bombed areas during the war. The Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) flew a total of 3,000 bombing raids over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defenses and the ports. Success would have made possible a combined German—Italian amphibious landing (Operation Herkules) supported by German airborne forces (Fallschirmjäger). It was never carried out. In the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in material and lives.
By November 1942, the Axis had lost the Second Battle of El Alamein and the Allies had landed forces in Vichy French Morocco and Algeria under Operation Torch. The Axis diverted their forces to the Battle of Tunisia, and attacks on Malta were rapidly reduced. The siege effectively ended in November 1942.
In December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. By May 1943, they had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. The Allied victory played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa.
Siege of Sevastopol 1941–42
The Siege of Sevastopol also known as the Defence of Sevastopol took place on the Eastern Front of the Second World War. The campaign was fought by the Axis powers of Germany, Romania, and Italy against the Soviet Union for control of Sevastopol, a port in the Crimea on the Black Sea. On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Axis land forces reached the Crimea in the autumn of 1941 and overran most of the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol. Several attempts were made to secure the city in October and November 1941. A major attack was planned for late November, but heavy rains delayed the Axis attack until 17 December 1941. Under the command of Erich von Manstein, Axis forces were unable to capture Sevastopol during this first operation. Soviet forces launched an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch in December 1941 to relieve the siege and force the Axis to divert forces to defend their gains. The operation saved Sevastopol for the time being, but the bridgehead in the eastern Crimea was eliminated in May 1942.
After the failure of their first assault on Sevastopol, the Axis opted to conduct siege warfare until the middle of 1942, at which point they attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land, sea, and air. On 2 June 1942, the Axis began this operation, codenamed Störfang (Sturgeon Catch). The Soviet Red Army and Black Sea Fleet held out for weeks under intense Axis bombardment. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) played a vital part in the siege. The Luftwaffe made up for a shortage of Axis artillery, providing highly effective aerial bombardment in support of the ground forces. Finally, on 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port. Both sides had suffered considerable losses during the siege and attack.
With the Soviet forces neutralized, the Axis refocused their attention on the major summer campaign of that year, Operation Blue and their advance to the Caucasus oil fields.
Slovak National Uprising
The Slovak National Uprising (Slovak: Slovenské národné povstanie, abbreviated SNP) or 1944 Uprising was an armed insurrection organized by the Slovak resistance movement during World War II. This resistance movement was represented mainly by the members of the Democratic Party, but also by social democrats and Communists, albeit on a smaller scale. It was launched on 29 August 1944 from Banská Bystrica in an attempt to resist German troops that had occupied Slovak territory and to overthrow the collaborationist government of Jozef Tiso. Although the resistance was largely defeated by German forces, guerrilla operations continued until the Soviet Army, Czechoslovak Army and Romanian Army liberated Fascist Slovakia in 1945.
In the post-war period, many political entities, mainly the Communists, attempted to “hijack” the uprising to their credit. The Stalinist regime in Czechoslovakia presented the Uprising as an event initiated and governed by Communist forces. Slovak ultranationalists, on the other hand, claim that the uprising was a plot against the Slovak nation, as one of its main objectives was to oust the regime of the puppet Slovak state and reestablish Czechoslovakia, in which Slovaks were dominated by Czechs. In fact, many factions fought in the uprising, the largest of which were units of the Slovak Army, Democratic resistance and Communist partisans, and international forces. Given this factionalization, the Uprising did not have unambiguous popular support. Yet the participants and supporters of the Uprising represented every religion, class, age, and the anti-Nazi political faction of the Slovak nation.
Spring 1945 Offensive in Italy – Operation Grapeshot
The spring 1945 offensive in Italy, codenamed Operation Grapeshot, was the final Allied attack during the Italian Campaign in the final stages of the Second World War. The attack into the Lombardy Plain by the 15th Allied Army Group started on 6 April 1945, ending on 2 May with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.
Third Battle of Kharkov – Donets Campaign
The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov (or Kharkiv) between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, and to in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod.
As the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of wider attacks against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on 2 January 1943 when the Red Army launched Operation Star and Operation Gallop, which between January and early February broke German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Belgorod, Kursk, as well as Voroshilovgrad and Izium. The Soviet victories caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves. Freed on 2 February by the surrender of the German Sixth Army the Red Army’s Central Front turned its attention west and on 25 February expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center. Months of continuous operations, however, had taken a heavy toll on the Soviet forces and some divisions were reduced to 1,000–2,000 combat effective soldiers. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein launched his Kharkov counterstrike, using the fresh II SS Panzer Corps and two panzer armies.
The Wehrmacht flanked, encircled, and defeated the Red Army’s armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper on 7 March. Despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on 11 March. This led to four days of house-to-house fighting before Kharkov was recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer Division on 15 March. The German forces recaptured Belgorod two days later, creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk. The German offensive cost the Red Army an estimated 90,000 casualties. The house-to-house fighting in Kharkov was also particularly bloody for the German SS Panzer Corps, which had approximately 4,300 men killed and wounded by the time operations ended in mid-March.