US Sixth War Loan Drive poster, Nov. 20-Dec. 16, 1944
80 Years Ago—November 20, 1939: First mines are dropped in the Thames River by German aircraft.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 20, 1944: US Sixth War Loan Drive starts (Read more: “World War II War Bonds”).
US Eighth Army secures Mapia Islands in East Indies, to be used for radar stations.
Ernie Pyle’s best-selling book Brave Men is published, about his experiences following American troops in Italy and France.
French tanks in Huningue, France (US Army Center of Military History)
80 Years Ago—November 19, 1939: Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese forces begin winter offensive.
Baseball player Joe DiMaggio marries Dorothy Arnold in San Francisco.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 19, 1944: French 1st Armored Division reaches the Rhine at Rosenau—the first Allied troops to reach the Rhine, but on too narrow a front.
French artillery shells German soil for the first time since 1940.
Albanian partisans liberate the capitol of Tirana as Germans evacuate.
British Fourteenth Army opens drive in Burma and crosses the Chindwin River at Sittaung.
US Third Army entering Metz, France, Nov 1944 (US Army Center of Military History)
80 Years Ago—November 18, 1939: IRA detonates four small bombs in Piccadilly, London.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 18, 1944: US Third Army enters Metz, France.
Submarine USS Blackfin picks up captured Japanese cryptographic equipment, technical equipment, and secret documents from Filipino resistance fighters on Mindoro.
Battle flag of submarine USS Spadefish (US Navy)
80 Years Ago—November 17, 1939: After uprising in Prague, Germans close Czechoslovakian universities, execute 9 students, and send 1200 to concentration camps.
Movie premiere of Another Thin Man, starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Asta.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 17, 1944: US submarine Spadefish sinks Japanese escort carrier Shinyo in the Yellow Sea, only 130/1160 survive.
US tank on Roer plain in Germany (US Army Center of Military History)
80 Years Ago—November 16, 1939: Germans counteract anti-Nazi student protests in Prague, Czechoslovakia, with arrests and gunfire, and they declare martial law.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 16, 1944: US First and Ninth Armies launch offensive to clear Roer Plain in Germany.
Patch of the US Eighth Army, WWII
80 Years Ago—November 15, 1939: President Franklin Roosevelt lays cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.
US Interior Department motorship North Star departs Boston for Antarctic expedition under Adm. Richard Byrd.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 15, 1944: US Eighth Army, in its first assault, lands on Mapia Islands in the East Indies.
Movie premiere of war film Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Walker, and Van Johnson.
Infantry-Tank Team of French 5th Armored Division, France, late 1944 (US Army Center of Military History)
80 Years Ago—November 14, 1939: In Lagunillas, Venezuela, an oil refinery fire kills 500 and destroys the town.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, 1944 (Imperial War Museum: TR 2625)
75 Years Ago—Nov. 14, 1944: British Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory dies in a plane crash in the French Alps, on his way to assume command in Southeast Asia.
French First Army opens assault toward Belfort Gap in France.
Movie premiere of documentary Combat America, produced by Clark Gable from footage he took on his five missions with the US 351st Bomb Group based in England.
Capt. Clark Gable with a B-17 Flying Fortress in England, 1943 (US Army photo)
Soldiers of the “Lost Battalion,” US Seventh Army, France, late 1944 (US Army Center of Military History)
75 Years Ago—November 13, 1944: In the Vosges Mountains in France, US Seventh Army launches offensive on German Siegfried Line.
Harvey premieres on Broadway.
Fleet Air Arm attack on the German battleship Tirpitz at Alta Fjord, Norway, 3 April 1944 (Imperial War Museum: A 22633)
80 Years Ago—November 12, 1939: Germany begins strict point-based clothing rationing, with no clothing ration cards issued to Jews.
75 Years Ago—Nov. 12, 1944: British Lancaster bombers sink German battleship Tirpitz in Tromsø Fjord, Norway; 902 killed.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the First World War came to an end.
The Armistice was signed for the War to End All Wars, but peace was built on a shoddy foundation, and war returned, nastier than ever.
The end of the Second World War brought the United Nations and the promise of rational negotiation and eternal peace. Instead the nuclear era introduced the tense decades of the Cold War, flaring up in brutal regional wars in Korea, Vietnam, and throughout Africa and Central and South America.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall brought optimism for a peaceful, democratic world. This was shattered by the terrorist tactics of a new enemy without borders to attack or a government to negotiate with. A cowardly enemy that cheers when children blow up children or when tourists are mowed down on their holidays.
The human heart yearns for peace but is drawn to war. We can argue about it and say it shouldn’t be this way, but it is.
That’s why our armed services are vital. Our veterans have repelled the forces of Fascism, Totalitarianism, and Communism, and for this we owe them our eternal gratitude. Our active servicemen and servicewomen are currently fighting the forces of Terrorism and standing guard against dictators, and for this we owe them our active support and appreciation.
On this 11th day of the 11th month, we thank the members of our armed services, past and present, for protecting our lives, our homes, and our freedom. May God bless you.