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Today in World War II History—January 2, 1940 & 1945

Charles Edison, 1945 (US National Park Service photo)

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)

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.

Today in World War II History—January 1, 1940 & 1945

Destroyed US P-47 fighter planes at Metz-Frescaty Airfield, France, 1 Jan 1945 (US Army Air Force photo)

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.

Today in World War II History—December 31, 1939 & 1944

Finnish troops gathering captured Soviet weapons, Taipale, Finland, 27-28 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)

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

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.”

Today in World War II History—December 30, 1939 & 1944

Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe and Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard II at Bastogne, Belgium, late Dec 1944 (US War Dept. photo)

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.

Today in World War II History—December 29, 1939 & 1944

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)

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.

Today in World War II History—December 28, 1939 & 1944

Consolidated XB-24 Liberator in flight, 1939. (US Air Force photo)

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

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).”

Today in World War II History—December 27, 1939 & 1944

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)

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.

Today in World War II History—December 26, 1944

Soldiers of US Third Army fighting to relieve besieged troops at Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 1944 (US Army photo)

Soldiers of US Third Army fighting to relieve besieged troops at Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 1944 (US Army photo)

75 Years Ago—December 26, 1944: US Third Army under Patton opens a corridor to Bastogne, relieving the defenders.

German Ardennes Offensive grinds to a halt due to stiff opposition and to supply problems caused by Allied bombing.

In Italy, Germans launch counterattack against US Fifth Army in the Serchio Valley, retaking territory.

US Army allows blacks to volunteer for combat infantry duty in black platoons in existing white units.

Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie premieres in Chicago.

Today in World War II History—December 25, 1939 & 1944

Finnish Army Lieutenant Aarne Juutilainen and his company holding a Christmas service near the Kollaa River, Finland, 24 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)

Finnish Army Lieutenant Aarne Juutilainen and his company holding a Christmas service near the Kollaa River, Finland, 24 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)

80 Years Ago—December 25, 1939: For Christmas in Britain, midnight church services are cancelled so stained glass windows won’t have to be blacked out, carolers are not allowed to use handbells, and the carol service at Westminster Abbey is cancelled since the choirboys have been evacuated from London.

Soviets attempt to break out at Suomussalmi, Finland, but fail.

Soldiers of the 463rd Combat Engineers in France near the German border observe Christmas, 25 Dec 1944; note K-ration cans as ornaments (US Army Signal Corps photo)

Soldiers of the 463rd Combat Engineers in France near the German border observe Christmas, 25 Dec 1944; note K-ration cans as ornaments (US Army Signal Corps photo)

75 Years Ago—Dec. 25, 1944: US Sixth Army lands at Palompon on Leyte in the Philippines, cutting off the last Japanese port on the island and ending the assault phase of the campaign.

Today in World War II History—December 24, 1939 & 1944

Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle on his promotion, 14 December 1944, ten days before his death (US Army Air Forces photo)

Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle on his promotion, 14 December 1944, ten days before his death (US Army Air Forces photo)

80 Years Ago—December 24, 1939: On Christmas Eve, Pope Pius XII appeals for peace.

75 Years Ago—Dec. 24, 1944: In the largest mission of the war, 2034 heavy bombers of the US Eighth Air Force bomb German targets in the Ardennes.

Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle dies in a B-17 crash after giving his crew time to bail out; he will receive the Medal of Honor.

Two-day Guam Riot begins: white Marines open fire at black Marines who had been talking to Asian women; 2 blacks will be killed in armed riots and 43 blacks—and no whites—will be court-martialed.

The San Francisco Ballet performs the first full-length performance of The Nutcracker ever in the US.