Heavy cruiser USS Louisville under kamikaze attack, 6 Jan 1945 (US National Archives: 80-G-363217)
80 Years Ago—January 5, 1940: In the Battle of Suomussalmi, Finnish troops encircle 18,000 Soviet troops north of Lake Ladoga.
Britain announces no one with a German passport, including Jews, can enter Palestine.
FM radio is demonstrated for the first time in the US.
75 Years Ago—Jan. 5, 1945: As Allied invasion force approaches Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, kamikazes damage heavy cruisers USS Louisville and HMAS Australia, destroyers USS Helm and HMAS Arunta, escort carriers USS Manila Bay and USS Savo Island, and destroyer escort USS Stafford (54 killed on all ships).
Adm. Lord Louis Mountbatten observing Mandalay from a distance aboard a WC command car, Burma, 13-18 Jan 1945 (Imperial War Museum: SE 1403)
80 Years Ago—January 4, 1940: Britain requisitions all merchant ships for the war effort.
75 Years Ago—Jan. 4, 1945: In Burma, British secure Akyab Island; Burma is now secured from Akyab to Mandalay and north of the Irrawaddy River.
Men of US 290th Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division near Amonines, Belgium, 4 Jan 1945 (US Army photo)
80 Years Ago—January 3, 1940: Finland bans smorgasbords to conserve food.
President Roosevelt calls for $1.8 billion in defense appropriations.
75 Years Ago—Jan. 3, 1945: In the Battle of the Bulge, US First Army begins offensive on the north flank of the Bulge.
US Navy organizes a hunter-killer group (escort carrier and destroyers/destroyer escorts) to intercept a U-boat believed to be bound for New York with V-weapons (a false report).
Charles Edison, 1945 (US National Park Service photo)
80 Years Ago—January 2, 1940: Charles Edison (son of Thomas) becomes Secretary of the Navy.
Adm. Sir Bertram Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Forces, at his London Headquarters at Norfolk House, 1944 (Imperial War Museum)
75 Years Ago—Jan. 2, 1945: Adm. Sir Bertram Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander in Chief, Expeditionary Force, dies in a plane crash at Toussus-le-Noble, France.
Destroyed US P-47 fighter planes at Metz-Frescaty Airfield, France, 1 Jan 1945 (US Army Air Force photo)
80 Years Ago—January 1, 1940: In the Rose Parade, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy serve as grand marshals.
Britain expands conscription to men aged 20-27, adding two million potential draftees.
75 Years Ago—Jan. 1, 1945: In Operation Bodenplatte, 900 Luftwaffe aircraft strafe Allied air bases in France and Belgium, destroying 465 aircraft but losing 234 with an irreplaceable loss of experienced pilots.
Herbert Hoover serves as grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses—the parade is not held due to the war, however.
Finnish troops gathering captured Soviet weapons, Taipale, Finland, 27-28 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)
80 Years Ago—December 31, 1939: Finnish 9th Division secures Suomussalmi, Finland after the Soviets retreat.
Britain bans sirens and horns for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
US poster, WWII
75 Years Ago—Dec. 31, 1944: Germans launch Nordwind offensive just before midnight against US Seventh and French Armies in Alsace, the last major German offensive of the war.
In the US, rationing is tightened again on meats, fats, and canned vegetables due to the Battle of the Bulge. (Read more: “Meat and Cheese Rationing in World War II,” “Rationing of Butter, Fats & Oils in World War II,” and “Rationing of Canned Goods in World War II.”)
Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe and Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard II at Bastogne, Belgium, late Dec 1944 (US War Dept. photo)
75 Years Ago—December 30, 1939: Movie premiere of Of Mice and Men, starring Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, and Lon Chaney Jr.
75 Years Ago—Dec. 30, 1944: Germans attack Bastogne, Belgium, but US forces hold firm.
Second German spy (Erich Gimpel) who landed in Maine by U-boat on November 29 is arrested by the FBI in New York City; William Colepaugh had turned himself in on December 26.
Finnish ski patrol, lying in the snow on the outskirts of a wood in Northern Finland, on the alert for Soviet troops, 12 January 1940. (Imperial War Museum: 4700-09 HU 55566)
80 Years Ago—December 29, 1939: In Soviet-Finnish war, Finnish ski troops tear up the Leningrad-Murmansk rail line.
Movie premieres of Destry Rides Again, starring Jimmy Stewart & Marlene Dietrich, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Charles Laughton & Maureen O’Hara.
75 Years Ago—Dec. 29, 1944: In Italy, Germans retreat in Serchio Valley after counterattack against US Fifth Army.
Consolidated XB-24 Liberator in flight, 1939. (US Air Force photo)
80 Years Ago—December 28, 1939: First flight of the XB-24 Liberator, at Lindbergh Field, San Diego, CA, the prototype for what will be America’s most-produced four-engine bomber of the war.
The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom
75 Years Ago—Dec. 28, 1944: Corrie ten Boom is released from Ravensbrück concentration camp due to a clerical error; she will later write The Hiding Place about her experiences.
Musical On the Town premieres on Broadway, featuring hit song “New York, New York (It’s a Wonderful Town).”
Hungarian troops man a 7.5 cm Pak 40 antitank gun in a Budapest suburb, Nov 1944 (German Federal Archive: Bild 146-1986-064-15)
80 Years Ago—December 27, 1939: US State Department protests British removal and censorship of US mail from neutral ships.
75 Years Ago—Dec. 27, 1944: Soviets encircle Budapest, Hungary, beginning 102-day siege.