Events in History over the next 15 day period that had U.S. military involvement or impacted in some way on U.S military operations or American interests
- Sep 00 1937 – Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh’s Return » Minh was a founding member of the French Communist Party in Paris when it split from the Socialists in 1920. He had also lived in Canton for three years before being forced to flee by Chiang Kai-Shek’s persecution of Communists in 1927. In 1937 Japan invaded Vietnam. The pretext for the invasion was their war with China. By occupying Vietnam Tokyo hoped to close off China’s southern border and halt its supply of weapons and supplies. When the war broke out, Minh returned to Vietnam for the first time in 30 years. He established a base by the border of Free China from which to oppose both the Vichy French and their allies the Japanese, but was ultimately captured by Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist forces and thrown in jail for two years.
Upon his release, he made his way back to Vietnam with a guerilla force armed by the Chinese. In March 1945, amid rumors of a possible American invasion, the Japanese ousted the French colonial government which had been operating independently and seized control of Vietnam. Minh was pleased when the Japanese overthrew the Vichy French government because with the War drawing to a close, he saw his chance to establish his country before the French were able to return. In August 1945 the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. Vietnam’s puppet emperor, Bao Dai, abdicated and Ho Chi Minh’s guerrillas occupied Hanoi and proclaimed a provisional government. With the signing of the surrender document Minh declared Vietnam independence by quoting from the text of the American Declaration of Independence which had been supplied to him by the OSS.
- Sep 01 1775 – American Revolution: King George Refuses Olive Branch Petition » Richard Penn and Arthur Lee, representing the Continental Congress, present the so-called Olive Branch Petition to the Earl of Dartmouth on this day in 1775. Britain’s King George III, however, refused to receive the petition, which, written by John Dickinson, appealed directly to the king and expressed hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain.
Dickinson, who hoped desperately to avoid a final break with Britain, phrased colonial opposition to British policy this way: “Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defense, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.”
By phrasing their discontent this way, Congress attempted to notify the king that American colonists were unhappy with ministerial policy, not his own. They then concluded their plea with a final statement of fidelity to the crown: “That your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your Dominions with honour to themselves and happiness to their subjects, is our sincere prayer.”
By July 1776, though, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed something very different: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” In fact, Congress insisted that Thomas Jefferson remove any language from the declaration that implicated the people of Great Britain or their elected representatives in Parliament. The fundamental grounds upon which Americans were taking up arms had shifted. The militia that had fired upon Redcoats at Lexington and Concord in April 1775 had been angry with Parliament, not the king, who they still trusted to desire only good for all of his subjects around the globe. This belief changed after Congress learned that King George refused to so much as receive the Olive Branch Petition.
Americans had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the king’s full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, many Americans realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support. Americans’ patriotic rage was further intensified by the January 1776 publication by English-born radical Thomas Paine of Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that attacked the monarchy, which Paine claimed had allowed “crowned ruffians” to “impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.”
- Sep 01 1862 – Civil War: North and South Clash at the Battle of Chantilly » Following his brilliant victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run two days earlier, Confederate General Robert E. Lee strikes retreating Union forces at Chantilly, Virginia, and drives them away in the middle of an intense thunderstorm. The battle was over within 90 minutes, although the storm persisted. Casualties and losses: US 1,300 – CSA 800.
- Sep 01 1864 – Civil War: Atlanta Falls to Union Forces » Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman lays siege to Atlanta, Georgia, a critical Confederate hub, shelling civilians and cutting off supply lines. The Confederates retreated, destroying the city’s munitions as they went. On November 15 of that year, Sherman’s troops burned much of the city before continuing their march through the South. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign was one of the most decisive victories of the Civil War.
William Sherman, born May 8, 1820, in Lancaster, Ohio, attended West Point and served in the army before becoming a banker and then president of a military school in Louisiana. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 after 11 Southern slave states seceded from the Union, Sherman joined the Union Army and eventually commanded large numbers of troops, under General Ulysses S. Grant, at the battles of Shiloh (1862), Vicksburg (1863) and Chattanooga (1863). In the spring of 1864, Sherman became supreme commander of the armies in the West and was ordered by Grant to take the city of Atlanta, then a key military supply center and railroad hub for the Confederates.
Sherman’s Atlanta campaign began on May 4, 1864, and in the first few months his troops engaged in several fierce battles with Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the city, including the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which the Union forces lost. However, on 1 SEP, Sherman’s men successfully captured Atlanta and continued to defend it through mid-November against Confederate forces led by John Hood. Before he set off on his famous March to the Sea on 15 NOV, Sherman ordered that Atlanta’s military resources, including munitions factories, clothing mills and railway yards, be burned. The fire got out of control and left Atlanta in ruins.
Sherman and 60,000 of his soldiers then headed toward Savannah, Georgia, destroying everything in their path that could help the Confederates. They captured Savannah and completed their March to the Sea on December 23, 1864. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, when the Confederate commander in chief, Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.
After the war, Sherman succeeded Grant as commander in chief of the U.S. Army, serving from 1869 to 1883. Sherman, who is credited with the phrase “war is hell,” died February 14, 1891, in New York City. The city of Atlanta swiftly recovered from the war and became the capital of Georgia in 1868, first on a temporary basis and then permanently by popular vote in 1877.
- Sep 01 1800 – During the Quasi-War with France, the schooner, USS Experiment, commanded by Lt. Charles Stewart, captures the French privateer Deux Amix off Barbuda, West Indies.
- Sep 01 1814 – War of 1812: The sloop-of-war, USS Wasp, commanded by Johnston Blakely, sinks the British brig sloop, HMS Avon, south of Ireland. Avon carried sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two 6-pounder long guns. Wasp carried twenty-two 32-pounder carronades, two 12-pounder chase guns and a 12-pounder boat carronade.
- Sep 01 1917 – WWI: Soldier Recounts Brush with Poison Gas » American soldier Stull Holt writes a letter home recounting some of his battlefield experiences on the Western Front at Verdun, France. Born in New York City in 1896, Holt served during World War I as a driver with the American Ambulance Field Service. He later joined the American Air Service, receiving his pilot commission as a first lieutenant.
Holt began his letter written while he was in Paris on leave, “Dear Lois, enjoying the luxuries of life including ice cream, sheets, cafes and things.” The bulk of Holt’s letter discussed his experiences at the fortress city of Verdun, where French and German troops had battled for an excruciating 10 months in 1916 and where fighting continued throughout the following year. “The French have a saying to the effect that no one comes out of Verdun the same. As the fighting is stiff there always the statement is probably true for all times, it certainly is true of Verdun during an attack. It would take a book to tell about all that happened there and when I try to write, little incidents entirely unconnected come to my mind so I don’t know where or how to begin.”
Holt described the ruined countryside and villages around Verdun, as well as the sights—and stench—of constant battle. “Besides the desolation visible to the eye there was the desolation visible to the nose. You could often see old bones, boots, clothing and things besides lots of recent ones.” The letter’s most vivid passage, however, recounted his own experiences under fire, including an incident in which he was struck by a shell containing poisonous gas.
“Something hit me on the head, making a big dent in my helmet and raising a bump on my head. If it hadn’t been for my helmet my head would have been cracked. As it was I was dazed, knocked down and my gas mask knocked off. I got several breathes [sic] of the strong solution right from the shell before it got diluted with much air. If it hadn’t been for the fellow with me I probably wouldn’t be writing this letter because I couldn’t see, my eyes were running water and burning, so was my nose and I could hardly breathe. I gasped, choked and felt the extreme terror of the man who goes under in the water and will clutch at a straw. The fellow with me grabbed me and led me the hundred yards or so to the post where the doctor gave me a little stuff and where I became alright again in a few hours except that I was a little intoxicated from the gas for a while. I had other close calls but that was the closest and shook me up most. I think the hardest thing I did was to go back again alone the next night. I had to call myself names before I got up nerve enough.”
Holt’s letters were later published in The Great War at Home and Abroad: The World War I Diaries and Letters of W. Stull Holt (1999).
- Sep 01 1925 – U.S. Navy: Cmdr. John Rodgers and a crew of four in a PN-9 aircraft run out of fuel on the first San Francisco to Hawaii flight. Landing at sea, they rig a sail and set sail for Hawaii. On 10 SEP, they are rescued by the submarine USS R-4, 10 miles from Kaui, then Territory of Hawaii.
- Sep 01 1939 – WW2: Germans Invade Poland » Some 1.5 million German troops (52 Divisions) invade Poland all along its 1,750-mile border with German-controlled territory. Simultaneously, the German Luftwaffe bombed Polish airfields/bridges, and German warships and U-boats attacked Polish naval forces in the Baltic Sea Polish and at their Westerplatte naval base. The Polish army was able to mobilize one million men but was hopelessly outmatched in every respect. To Hitler, the conquest of Poland would bring Lebensraum, or “living space,” for the German people. Hitler’s action begins the war in Europe.
To Hitler, the conquest of Poland would bring Lebensraum, or “living space,” for the German people. According to his plan, the “racially superior” Germans would colonize the territory and the native Slavs would be enslaved. German expansion had begun in 1938 with the annexation of Austria and then continued with the occupation of the Sudetenland and then all of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Both had been accomplished without igniting hostilities with the major powers, and Hitler hoped that his invasion of Poland would likewise be tolerated.
To neutralize the possibility that the USSR would come to Poland’s aid, Germany signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union on August 23, 1939. In a secret clause of the agreement, the ideological enemies agreed to divide Poland between them. Hitler gave orders for the Poland invasion to begin on 26 AUG but on 25 AUG he delayed the attack when he learned that Britain had signed a new treaty with Poland, promising military support should it be attacked. To forestall a British intervention, Hitler turned to propaganda and misinformation, alleging persecution of German-speakers in eastern Poland. Fearing imminent attack, Poland began to call up its troops, but Britain and France persuaded Poland to postpone general mobilization until 31 AUG in a last ditch effort to dissuade Germany from war.
Shortly after noon on 31 AUG, Hitler ordered hostilities against Poland to begin at 4:45 a.m. the next morning. At 8 p.m. on 31 AUG, Nazi S.S. troops wearing Polish uniforms staged a phony invasion of Germany, damaging several minor installations on the German side of the border. They also left behind a handful of dead concentration camp prisoners in Polish uniforms to serve as further evidence of the supposed Polish invasion, which Nazi propagandists publicized as an unforgivable act of aggression.
At 4:45 a.m. on 1 SEP, the invasion began. Nazi diplomats and propagandists scrambled to head off hostilities with the Western powers, but on 2 SEP Britain and France demanded that Germany withdraw by 3 SEP or face war. At 11 p.m. on 3 SEP, the British ultimatum expired, and 15 minutes later British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went on national radio to solemnly announce that Britain was at war with Germany. Australia, New Zealand, and India followed suit shortly thereafter. At 5:00 p.m., France declared war on Germany.
In Poland, German forces advanced at a dizzying rate. Employing a military strategy known as the blitzkrieg, or “lightning war,” armored divisions smashed through enemy lines and isolated segments of the enemy, which were encircled and captured by motorized German infantry while the panzer tanks rushed forward to repeat the pattern. Meanwhile, the sophisticated German air force–the Luftwaffe–destroyed Polish air capability, provided air support for the blitzkrieg, and indiscriminately bombed Polish cities in an effort to further terrorize the enemy.
The Polish army was able to mobilize one million men but was hopelessly outmatched in every respect. Rather than take a strong defensive position, troops were rushed to the front to confront the Germans and were systematically captured or annihilated. By 8 SEP, German forces had reached the outskirts of Warsaw, having advanced 140 miles in the first week of the invasion.
The Polish armed forces hoped to hold out long enough so that an offensive could be mounted against Germany in the west, but on 17 SEP Soviet forces invaded from the east and all hope was lost. The next day, Poland’s government and military leaders fled the country. On 28 SEP, the Warsaw garrison finally surrendered to a relentless German siege. That day, Germany and the USSR concluded an agreement outlining their zones of occupation. For the fourth time in its history, Poland was partitioned by its more powerful neighbors.
Despite their declaration of war against Germany, Britain and France did little militarily to aid Poland. Britain bombed German warships on 4 SEP, but Chamberlain resisted bombing Germany itself. Though Germans kept only 23 divisions in the west during their campaign in Poland, France did not launch a full-scale attack even though it had mobilized over four times that number. There were modest assaults by France on its border with Germany but these actions ceased with the defeat of Poland. During the subsequent seven months, some observers accused Britain and France of waging a “phony war,” because, with the exception of a few dramatic British-German clashes at sea, no major military action was taken. However, hostilities escalated exponentially in 1940 with Germany’s April invasion of Norway and May invasion of the Low Countries and France.
In June 1941, Hitler attacked the USSR, breaking his nonaggression with the Soviet Union, and Germany seized all of Poland. During the German occupation, nearly three million Polish Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps. The Nazis also severely persecuted the Slavic majority, deporting and executing Poles in an attempt to destroy the intelligentsia and Polish culture. A large Polish resistance movement effectively fought against the occupation with the assistance of the Polish government-in-exile. Many exiled Poles also fought for the Allied cause. The Soviets completed the liberation of Poland in 1945 and established a communist government in the nation.
• Sep 01 1939 – WW2: Siege of Warsaw » The Siege was fought between the Polish Warsaw Army (Polish: Armia Warszawa) garrisoned and entrenched in Warsaw and the invading German Army. It began with huge aerial bombardments initiated by the Luftwaffe starting on September 1, 1939 following the Nazi invasion of Poland. Land fighting started on 8 SEP, when the first German armored units reached the Wola district and south-western suburbs of the city. Despite German radio broadcasts claiming to have captured Warsaw, the initial enemy attack was repelled and soon afterwards Warsaw was placed under siege. The siege lasted until 28 SEP, when the Polish garrison, commanded under General Walerian Czuma, officially capitulated. The following day approximately 140,000 Polish troops left the city and were taken as prisoners of war. On 1 OCT the Wehrmacht entered Warsaw, which started a period of German occupation that lasted until the devastating Warsaw Uprising and later until January 17, 1945, when the Wehrmacht troops abandoned the city due to the advance of Polish-Soviet forces.
Volunteer fire-fighters watching an air duel over Warsaw. Propaganda poster reads
“To Arms – United, we will defeat the enemy”.
Around 18,000 civilians of Warsaw perished during the siege. As a result of the air bombardments, 10% of the city’s buildings were entirely destroyed and further 40% were heavily damaged. Under the international rules regarding aerial warfare in 1939 Warsaw was considered a legitimate military target as the city was on the front line during the fighting and it was heavily defended by the Polish army
- Sep 01 1939 – PreWW2: Operation Pied Piper » The evacuation of civilians in Britain during the Second World War was designed to protect people, especially children, from the risks associated with aerial bombing of cities by moving them to areas thought to be less at risk. Operation Pied Piper, which began on 1 SEP, officially relocated more than 3.5 million people. There were further waves of official evacuation and re-evacuation from the south and east coasts in June 1940, when a seaborne invasion was expected, and from affected cities after the Blitz began in September 1940. There were also official evacuations from the UK to other parts of the British Empire, and many non-official evacuations within and from the UK. Other mass movements of civilians included British citizens arriving from the Channel Islands, and displaced people arriving from continental Europe.
In 1939 the British Government passed the Camps Act 1939 which established the National Camps Corporation as a body to design and build residential camps for young people, which could provide opportunities for outdoor learning and also act as evacuation centers in the event of war. The architect T. S. Tait was responsible for the design of the buildings, which included accommodation for over 200 children and staff, recreational halls, wash blocks and a dining hall/kitchen complex. These camps were replicated in over thirty different rural locations around the country. During the war years, they acted as safe refuges for city children. After the war the ownership of the sites was transferred to the local authorities.
The Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) approved 24,000 children for evacuation overseas. Between June and September 1940, 1,532 children were evacuated to Canada, mainly through the Pier 21 immigration terminal; 577 to Australia; 353 to South Africa and 202 to New Zealand. The scheme was cancelled after the City of Benares was torpedoed on 17 September 1940, killing 77 of the 90 CORB children aboard. However, in 1940 and 1941 about 14,000 children were evacuated privately to overseas relatives or foster families, including 6,000 to Canada and 5,000 to the United States.
- Sep 01 1941 – WW2: The United States assumed responsibility for trans-Atlantic convoys from Argentina, Newfoundland, to the meridian of Iceland.
- Sep 01 1942 – WW2: The first Seabee unit to serve in a combat area, the Sixth Naval Construction Battalion, arrives on Guadalcanal.
- Sep 01 1942 – WW2: PBY Catalina aircraft from VP-73 bomb and sink German submarine U-756 southwest of Iceland.
- Sep 01 1944 – WW2: Red Ball Express » Patton’s U.S. Third Army offensive temporarily slows due to gasoline shortage. While Patton was racing through France consuming an average of 350,000 gallons of gasoline each day, the famous Red Ball Express was organized to meet his growing demands as well as those of the First Army. Essentially a nonstop convoy of trucks connecting supply depots in Normandy to the armies in the field, the Red Ball at its peak used 6,000 trucks to complete its missions. As Patton advanced deeper, the demands placed upon the Red Ball grew faster than it was able to supply. Using 300,000 gallons of fuel each day itself, the Express pointed out what was becoming grossly obvious to tactical commanders, the Allies were running out of gas.
On 28 AUG, Patton’s army was forced to ease up when its fuel allocation fell 100,000 gallons short. Even though gasoline was in abundance in Normandy, the Red Ball could not transport it in sufficient quantities to the Third’s forward units. On 31 AUG, after receiving no fuel at all, Patton’s spearheads came to a halt. During the next week, as Patton idled in park, General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave logistics priority and fuel allocations to units farther north. By the time normal fuel allocations resumed in the Third Army, the opportunity to sweep through Lorraine freely had passed by Patton.
Concurrently with his fuel problems, Patton experienced two other situations which began to jab at his side during this first part of September. First, as the Third Army became more stationary, it began to use its larger caliber artillery weapons, causing an ammunition shortage. There was no way to build up ammunition stockage because all available trucks were transporting fuel. As the Lorraine campaign continued, shortages would also be felt in clothing, rations, tires and antifreeze for the quickly approaching winter months.
Secondly, as Patton’s armies waited for the supply train to catch up, the Germans were massing forces throughout Lorraine. Hitler ordered soldiers into the area at once and their numbers would increase greatly. Even though still outnumbered by Patton’s forces and superior firepower (estimated at 20 to 1 in tanks), these German forces, made up of many sick, deaf and garrison soldiers, would contest every inch of ground. This resistance caused the Third Army to fight considerably harder than they were accustomed during the first months of the campaign. Patton’s two Corps, the XX and the XII, made up of four to six infantry divisions and two or three armor divisions, would be responsible for most fighting during the next bloody months in France.
On 25 SEP, Patton was ordered to halt and to hold his ground until the logistical tail could restock itself before continuing. Patton, not being one to sit around and wait, established outposts, while maintaining active reserve contingency forces, and began to restock his own logistical base from within. Strict gasoline rationing and using mortars instead of large caliber weapon rounds lessened the initial two concerns of the Third Army.
- Sep 01 1944 – WW2: German U-247 Sunk » U-247 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany’s launched on 23 September 1943 and commissioned on 23 OCT under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Gerhard Matschulat. Her first sortie began with her departure from Bergen on 31 May 1944. She passed into the Atlantic Ocean via the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands. She sank the Noreen Mary on 5 JUL west of Scotland, with gunfire, not torpedoes, which by this stage of the war, with a near constant Allied air presence, was quite remarkable.
It is alleged that her crew then machine-gunned survivors of the fishing boat in the water, only one of two cases believed to have substance to the claim. She then skirted to the west of Ireland, before arriving at Brest in occupied France, on 27 JUL. On her 2nd patrol she left Brest on 26 AUG patrolling near Lands End, at the western end of the English Channel where was attacked and sunk on 1 SEP by depth charges from the Canadian frigates HMCS Saint John and HMCS Swansea. Fifty-two men died; there were no survivors.
- Sep 01 1950 – Korean War: 13 North Korean divisions open assault on UN lines.
- Sep 01 1966 – Vietnam War: De Gaulle urges the United States to get out of Vietnam » In a speech before 100,000 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, President Charles de Gaulle of France denounces U.S. policy in Vietnam and urges the U.S. government to pull its troops out of Southeast Asia. De Gaulle said that negotiations toward a settlement of the war could begin as soon as the United States committed to withdrawing its troops by a certain date. He and Prince Norodom Sihanouk signed a declaration calling for noninterference in the Indochinese peninsula by foreign nations. Three days later, Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy on NBC-TV’s Meet The Press rejected de Gaulle’s proposal and said that the United States intended to withdraw its forces when “the North Vietnamese get out.” During the same speech, he also revealed that the United States now had 25,000 military people in Thailand, principally for air force operations
- Sep 01 1967 – Vietnam War: North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong publicly states Hanoi will “continue to fight.”
- Sep 01 1970 – Vietnam War: McGovern-Hatfield Amendment Defeated in the Senate » The U.S. Senate rejects the amendment by a vote of 55-39. This legislation, proposed by Senators George McGovern of South Dakota and Mark Hatfield of Oregon, would have set a deadline of December 31, 1971, for complete withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam. The Senate also turned down 71-22, a proposal forbidding the Army from sending draftees to Vietnam.
- Sep 01 1982 – U.S. Air Force: The United States Air Force Space Command is founded.
- Sep 01 1983 – Cold War: Korean Airlines Flight Shot Down by Soviet Union » Soviet jet fighters intercept a Korean Airlines passenger flight in Russian airspace and shoot the plane down, killing 269 passengers and crewmembers. The incident dramatically increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
On September 1, 1983, Korean Airlines (KAL) flight 007 was on the last leg of a flight from New York City to Seoul, with a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska. As it approached its final destination, the plane began to veer far off its normal course. In just a short time, the plane flew into Russian airspace and crossed over the Kamchatka Peninsula, where some top-secret Soviet military installations were known to be located. The Soviets sent two fighters to intercept the plane. According to tapes of the conversations between the fighter pilots and Soviet ground control, the fighters quickly located the KAL flight and tried to make contact with the passenger jet. Failing to receive a response, one of the fighters fired a heat-seeking missile. KAL 007 was hit and plummeted into the Sea of Japan. All 269 people on board were killed.
This was not the first time a South Korean flight had run into trouble over Russia. In 1978, the Soviets forced a passenger jet down over Murmansk; two passengers were killed during the emergency landing. In its first public statement concerning the September 1983 incident, the Soviet government merely noted that an unidentified aircraft had been shot down flying over Russian territory. The United States government reacted with horror to the disaster. The Department of State suggested that the Soviets knew the plane was an unarmed civilian passenger aircraft. President Ronald Reagan called the incident a “massacre” and issued a statement in which he declared that the Soviets had turned “against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere.” Five days after the incident, the Soviets admitted that the plane had indeed been a passenger jet, but that Russian pilots had no way of knowing this. A high ranking Soviet military official stated that the KAL flight had been involved in espionage activities. The Reagan administration responded by suspending all Soviet passenger air service to the United States, and dropped several agreements being negotiated with the Soviets.
Despite the heated public rhetoric, many Soviets and American officials and analysts privately agreed that the incident was simply a tragic misunderstanding. The KAL flight had veered into a course that was close to one being simultaneously flown by a U.S. spy plane; perhaps Soviet radar operators mistook the two. In the Soviet Union, several of the military officials responsible for air defense in the Far East were fired or demoted. It has never been determined how the KAL flight ended up nearly 200 miles off course.
- Sep 02 1862 – Civil War: McClellan is Restored to Full Command » President Abraham Lincoln reluctantly restores Union General George B. McClellan to full command after General John Pope’s disaster at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, on August 29 and 30. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, saw much of his army transferred to Pope’s Army of Virginia after his failure to capture Richmond, Virginia, during the Seven Days’ Battles in June 1862.
Generals McCullen and Pope
Pope, who had one chance to prove his leadership at Second Bull Run against Confederate General Robert E. Lee, failed miserably and retreated to Washington, D.C. He had not received any help from McClellan, who sat nearby in Alexandria, Virginia, and refused to go to Pope’s aid. After a summer of defeats, the Union forces in the east were now in desperate need of a boost in morale. Even though McClellan was, in part, the architect of those losses, Lincoln felt he was the best available general to raise the sagging spirits of the men in blue. The president recognized McClellan’s talent for preparing an army to fight, even if he had proven to be a poor field commander. Lincoln wrote to his secretary John Hay: “We must use the tools we have. There is no man in the Army who can man these fortifications and lick these troops into shape half as well as he. If he can’t fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight.”
There was little time for the Union to dawdle after Second Bull Run. Lee’s army lurked just 25 miles from Washington, and had tried to cut off the Union retreat at Chantilly, Virginia, on September 1. Even as Lincoln restored McClellan’s command, the Confederates were starting to move northward. McClellan was soon on the road in pursuit of Lee’s army.
- Sep 02 1864 – Civil War: Atlanta Falls to Union Forces (21 JUL – 2 SEP) » Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman, after his failed Battle of Atlanta, laid siege to the critical Confederate hub for 42 days, shelling civilians and cutting off supply lines. Ultimately, the Confederates retreated, destroying the city’s munitions as they went and his forces entered the day after.
- Sep 02 1885 – Westward Expansion: Rock Springs Massacre » On this day 150 white miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming, brutally attack their Chinese coworkers, killing 28, wounding 15 others, and driving several hundred more out of town.
An illustration of the massacre from an 1886 issue of Harper’s Weekly
The miners working in the Union Pacific coal mine had been struggling to unionize and strike for better working conditions for years. But at every juncture the powerful railroad company had bested them. Searching for a scapegoat, the angry miners blamed the Chinese. The Chinese coal miners were hard workers, but the Union Pacific had initially brought many of them to Rock Springs as strikebreakers, and they showed little interest in the miners’ union.
Outraged by a company decision to allow Chinese miners to work the richest coal seams, a mob of white miners impulsively decided to strike back by attacking Rock Spring’s small Chinatown. When they saw the armed mob approaching, most of the Chinese abandoned their homes and businesses and fled for the hills. But those who failed to escape in time were brutally beaten and murdered. A week later, on 9 SEP, U.S. troops escorted the surviving Chinese back into the town where many of them returned to work. Eventually the Union Pacific fired 45 of the white miners for their roles in the massacre, but no effective legal action was ever taken against any of the participants.
The Rock Springs massacre was symptomatic of the anti-Chinese feelings shared by many Americans at that time. The Chinese had been victims of prejudice and violence ever since they first began to come to the West in the mid-nineteenth century, fleeing famine and political upheaval. Widely blamed for all sorts of social ills, the Chinese were also singled-out for attack by some national politicians who popularized strident slogans like “The Chinese Must Go” and helped pass an 1882 law that closed the U.S. to any further Chinese immigration. In this climate of racial hatred, violent attacks against the Chinese in the West became all too common, though the Rock Springs massacre was notable both for its size and savage brutality.
- Sep 02 1898 – Machine gun 1st used in battle.
- Sep 02 1917 – WWI: Fatherland Party Formally Launched in Germany » Militarist conservatives within Germany formally launch a new political party, the Vaterlandspartei or Fatherland Party, a move that reflects the growing hold of the army over all aspects of German society during the First World War.
- Sep 02 1917 – WWI: U-28 sinks » U-boat U-28 was commissioned into the Imperial German Navy on 26 June 1914. On 15 January 1917, Georg Schmidt took command. On 30 July 1915, U-28 sunk the British steamer Iberian. According to her Captain’s account of the incident, the wreckage remained under the water for about 25 seconds until an explosion sent some of the debris flying up. It is said that along with the debris, a creature described as a “gigantic aquatic animal” resembling a crocodile was seen, which quickly disappeared from sight.
U-28’s final patrol began on 19 August 1917, when it departed from Emden, Germany for the Arctic Ocean. On 2 SEP, at 11:55 am, it encountered the armed English steamer Olive Branch, 85 nautical miles north-by-northeast of North Cape, Norway. She scored a torpedo hit, and closed in to finish the steamer with gunfire. The shells detonated Olive Branch’s cargo of munitions, which it had been carrying from England to Arkhangelsk, Russia, and the subsequent explosion so badly damaged the U-boat that it sank along with the steamer. All 39 of its crew were lost; some were seen swimming, but were not picked up by Olive Branch’s lifeboats. An alternative description of the event states that when the ammunition detonated, a truck carried as deck cargo was blown into the air and fell from a great height on the U-boat, sinking it. U-28 had conducted 5 patrols, sinking 40 ships totaling 90,126 tons.
- Sep 02 1940 – Pre WW2: Destroyers for Bases Deal » During the 1930’s the occupation by the United States of European possessions in the Western Hemisphere had become a favorite political tom-tom for Anglophobes and isolationists. Generally presented in the guise of a necessity for national defense, the several proposals of this nature were invariably stripped of their pretensions by the War Department, which, as late as April 1940, insisted that the potential military value of the European colonies remaining in the New World was not sufficient to justify their acquisition by the United States.
But the rapid advance of German armies through northern France completely changed the perspective in which the strategic value of Atlantic bases had hitherto been viewed. What had been laid aside, in April, as of no pressing military importance had become, a few months later, a part of the basic plan for hemisphere defense. And yet, to take over the European colonies in America would have been to acquire also a host of unwanted problems. All the military advantages of such a step, without most of the liabilities, were gained on 2 SEP as a result of the history making Destroyer-Base Agreement,
This was an agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom to which fifty Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson class US Navy destroyers were transferred to the Royal Navy from the United States Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions which included the right to lease naval and air base sites in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Trinidad, and British Guiana for a period of ninety-nine years. Generally referred to as the “twelve hundred-ton type” (also known as “flush-deck”, or “four-pipers” after their four funnels), the destroyers became the British Town class and were named after towns common to both the United States and Britain. President Roosevelt used an executive agreement that did not require Congressional approval, but he came under heavy attack from antiwar political elements.
- Sep 02 1944 – WW2: Navy Aviator George H.W. Bush and his Squadron Attacked » Future President George Herbert Walker Bush is serving as a torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific theater of World War II when his squadron is attacked by Japanese anti-aircraft guns. Bush was forced to bail out of the plane over the ocean.
According to the Navy’s records, Bush’s squadron was conducting a bombing mission on a Japanese installation on the island of Chi Chi Jima in the Pacific when they encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire. The engine on Bush’s plane was set ablaze, yet Bush managed to release his bombs and head back toward the aircraft carrier San Jacinto before bailing out over the water. Two other crew members perished in the attack. After floating on a raft for four hours, a submarine crew fished a safe but exhausted Bush out of the water.
His bravery in action earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross. The previous June, Bush had experienced a similar close call with death when he was forced to make a crash landing on water after a bombing run; a U.S. destroyer crew rescued him from the sea. After his harrowing experience near Chi Chi Jima, Bush returned to the San Jacinto and continued to pilot torpedo bombers in several successful missions. Over the course of 1944, while his squadron suffered a 300 percent casualty rate among its pilots, an undaunted Bush won three Air Medals as well as a Presidential Unit Citation. In total, Bush flew 58 combat missions during the war.
In December 1944, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was tasked with training new pilots. He received an honorable discharge from the Navy in September 1945 after the Japanese surrender.
- Sep 02 1945 – WW2: V–J Day » Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II. Combat ends in the Pacific Theater.
By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive bombing of Japanese cities had left the country and its economy devastated. At the end of June, the Americans captured Okinawa, a Japanese island from which the Allies could launch an invasion of the main Japanese home islands. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the invasion, which was code-named “Operation Olympic” and set for November 1945.
The invasion of Japan promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On 16 JUL, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the “unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces.” Failure to comply would mean “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.” On 28 JUL, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki responded by telling the press that his government was “paying no attention” to the Allied ultimatum. U.S. President Harry Truman ordered the devastation to proceed, and on 6 AUG, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people and fatally wounding thousands more.
After the Hiroshima attack, a faction of Japan’s supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. On 8 AUG, Japan’s desperate situation took another turn for the worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. The next day, Soviet forces attacked in Manchuria, rapidly overwhelming Japanese positions there, and a second U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese coastal city of Nagasaki.
Just before midnight on 9 AUG, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration “with the understanding that said Declaration does not compromise any demand that prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as the sovereign ruler.” The council obeyed Hirohito’s acceptance of peace, and on August 10 the message was relayed to the United States.
Early on 12 AUG, the United States answered that “the authority of the emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” After two days of debate about what this statement implied, Emperor Hirohito brushed the nuances in the text aside and declared that peace was preferable to destruction. He ordered the Japanese government to prepare a text accepting surrender.
In the early hours of 15 AUG, a military coup was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki’s residence, but shortly after dawn the coup was crushed. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the Japanese surrender. In his unfamiliar court language, he told his subjects, “we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” The United States immediately accepted Japan’s surrender.
President Truman appointed MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For the site of Japan’s formal surrender, Truman chose the USS Missouri, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman’s native state. MacArthur, instructed to preside over the surrender, held off the ceremony until September 2 in order to allow time for representatives of all the major Allied powers to arrive.
On Sunday, 2 SEP, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.
Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed on behalf of the United Nations, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.” Ten more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.
- Sep 02 1945 – WW2: Vietnam Independence Proclaimed » Hours after Japan’s surrender in World War II, Vietnamese communist Ho Chi Minh declares the independence of Vietnam from France. The proclamation paraphrased the U.S. Declaration of Independence in declaring, “All men are born equal: the Creator has given us inviolable rights, life, liberty, and happiness!” and was cheered by an enormous crowd gathered in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. Ho declares himself president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and pursues American recognition but is repeatedly ignored by President Harry Truman. It would be 30 years, however, before Ho’s dream of a united, communist Vietnam became reality.
- Sep 02 1945 – WW2: Military Executions » Sometimes the driest of statistics throw a harsher light on reality than any longer discussion. According to official statistics, during World War II, Soviet tribunals convicted more than 2.5 million Soviet citizens, condemned 472,000 for “counter-revolutionary activity,” and executed 217,000. “The death sentences, Radio Liberty’s Dmitry Volchek notes, were mostly carried out by the Special Department, later SMERSH, or by a group of the victim’s fellow Red Army soldiers.” Just how horrific these numbers are and what they say about the Soviet population’s much-ballyhooed enthusiastic support of Stalin is shown by comparisons with executions in other countries. During World War II, British military tribunals sentenced to death 40 soldiers, French ones – 102, and American ones – 146. German military tribunals, Volchek reports, sentenced to death some 30,000 soldiers – and approximately the same number of German deserters at the end of the war.
- Sep 02 1958 – Cold War: U.S. Aircraft Shot Down by Soviets » A U.S. Air Force C–130A–II with a crew of 17 is shot down by Soviet fighters 24 miles inside Soviet airspace in Soviet Armenia by fighters when it strays into Soviet airspace while conducting a SIGINT mission. All the crew were lost. At first the Soviets denied any knowledge of the incident; they later stated that the aircraft had simply “crashed.” The remains of 6 crewmembers were returned to US custody on 24 SEP. The Soviets denied any knowledge of the 11 other crew members on 16 OCT. However, “The Soviet magazine Ogonyok, in a January 15, 1961 article reported that eleven personnel parachuted from the aircraft and were captured in the town of Yerevan…
Subsequently Soviet authorities reported the magazine presented incorrect facts.” It is possible that this aircraft was “meaconed” into Soviet airspace deliberately by false navigational signals broadcast by the Soviets. All accounts agree that 11 crewmembers were unaccounted for and 6 remains returned to US custody. However, 13 names, not 11, are on the list of unaccounted for crewmembers for this aircraft presented in January 1992 to the Russian Government by the US Government.
- Sep 02 1963 – Vietnam: During a TV news interview with Walter Cronkite, President Kennedy describes Diem as “out of touch with the people” and adds that South Vietnam’s government might regain popular support “with changes in policy and perhaps in personnel.”
- Sep 02 1969 – Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh Dies » President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam dies of a heart attack in Hanoi. North Vietnamese officials announced his death the next day.
Ho Chi Minh had been the heart and soul of Vietnamese communism since the earliest days of the movement. Born in 1890, he was the son of a Vietnamese government official who resigned in protest against French domination of his country. He was educated in Hue and as a young man worked as a cook on a French steamship, travelling to the United States, Africa, and then Europe, where he took work in London and Paris. In 1920, having accepted Marxist Leninism because of its anticolonial stance, he changed his name to Nguyen Ai Quoc (“Nguyen the Patriot”) and helped found the French Communist Party. He traveled to Moscow in 1923 for study and training. In 1924, he went to Canton, China, to meet with Phan Boi Chau, one of the leading Vietnamese nationalists of the era. While in China, Ho played the leading role in the founding of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1929. Ho spent most of the next 10 years writing and organizing, all while outside Vietnam. When the Japanese invaded Vietnam at the beginning of World War II, he changed his name to Ho Chi Minh (“Ho, the Bringer of Light”) and moved his revolutionary group to the caves of Pac Bo in northern Vietnam. There, in May 1941, he organized the Viet Minh, a nationalist and communist organization created to mobilize the people.
During the war, Ho and the Viet Minh entered into a loose alliance with the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), helping to rescue downed American pilots. In 1945, when the Japanese surrendered, the Viet Minh seized power and proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam with Ho as president. However, the French, wanting to reimpose colonial rule, refused to grant independence to the Vietnamese. In late 1946, war broke out between the Viet Minh and the French. It lasted for eight bloody years, ending finally with the Viet Minh defeating the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
The subsequent Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into North and South Vietnam. Ho devoted his efforts to constructing a communist society in North Vietnam. In the early 1960s, a new war broke out in the South, where communist-led guerrillas mounted an insurgency against the U.S.-supported regime in Saigon. When the United States intervened militarily, Ho directed his forces in a protracted war against the Americans. During this period, Ho continued to provide inspirational leadership to his people, but as his health deteriorated, he increasingly assumed a more ceremonial role as policy was shaped by others. Still, he was the embodiment of the revolution and remained a communist icon after his death in 1969.
- Sep 02 1972 – Vietnam War: 47th North Vietnamese MiG Shot Down » Phuc Yen, 10 miles north of Hanoi, and one of the largest air bases in North Vietnam, is smashed by U.S. fighter-bombers. During the attack, a MiG was shot down, bringing the total to 47 enemy aircraft shot down since the beginning of the North Vietnamese offensive. At this point in the war, 18 U.S. planes had been shot down by MiGs.
- Sep 02 1987 – Cold War: Trial of Mathias Rust Begins » The trial of the 19-year-old pilot who flew his Cessna plane into Red Square in May 1987, begins in Moscow. Rust had become an international celebrity following his daring intrusion into Soviet airspace and landing in the center of Moscow, but the Soviet government condemned his actions.
- Sep 02 2017 – Cold War: North Korea Nuclear Test » DPRK conducts its 6th nuclear test detonating a nuclear bomb that sparked a powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake amid an ‘escalating’ nuclear crisis. The tremor was detected in the northeast of the country where the Punggye-ri test site is located – but was so strong that it shook buildings in China and Russia. State television claimed the country’s sixth nuclear test – 10 times more powerful than its fifth on September 9, 2016 – was a ‘perfect success’ and could pave the way for a frightening new range of missiles loaded with hydrogen bombs.
- Sep 03, 1777 – American Revolution: Battle of Cooch’s Bridge » Also known as the Battle of Iron Hill, this was only battle of the American Revolution to take place in Delaware. British General William Howe landed 17,000 troops at Head of Elk, Maryland on 25 AUG with the goal of capturing Philadelphia, the capital of the rebel Continental Congress. Over the next few days, while Howe unloaded troops and supplies, George Washington and the Continental Army reconnoitered the British army to gauge its strength and intentions.
Washington’s main force was camped near Wilmington, Delaware. Washington himself traveled to the nearby hills overlooking Head of Elk to spy on the British troops. The Commander of the Continental Army placed sentries and small groups of troops at various roads and bridges to watch for British movements and advances, since it was not known which way Howe would try to approach Philadelphia. About 1,000 Pennsylvania and Delaware troops were placed under the command of Brigadier General William Maxwell, who had them divided between Iron Hill, the tallest hill in Delaware, near modern day Newark, and the nearby Cooch’s Bridge.
On 2 SEP, British and German troops under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis took over Aiken’s Tavern about 5 miles east of Head of Elk and 3 miles south of Cooch’s Bridge. In the morning of 3 SEP, an advance company of Hessian dragoons scouting the road north of the tavern were fired on by Maxwell’s light infantry. This brought a rush of German jagers, (light infantry) who engaged the militia. Maxwell held for some time, but a German bayonet charge forced him to retreat. The jagers chased Maxwell back to Cooch’s Bridge where they made an heroic stand. Eventually, though, they ran out of ammunition and another bayonet charge forced Maxwell to retreat to General Washington’s camp at White Clay Creek. The Germans pursued them for a few miles, but turned back to shore up their gains.
This was a minor battle in terms of casualties and soldiers, but it was an important fight during the Philadelphia Campaign that eventually led to the turning points of the war. The campaign in the area was a defeat for American forces, but helped them gain the experience they needed to turn the tide of the war. The Continental Army got word of the British advancing towards the Brandywine Valley, and sent troops out to delay them. At Cooch’s Bridge, that was accomplished, but the American forces did have to withdraw after a hard fought battle.
- Sep 03 1777 – American Revolution: The Stars and Stripes flies » The American flag is flown in battle for the first time, during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the stars and strips banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops. The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to General George Washington’s main force near Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.
Three months before, on 14 JUN, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, which became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton for the Stars and Stripes, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars and a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend.
With the entrance of new states into the United States after independence, new stripes and stars were added to represent new additions to the Union. In 1818, however, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states. On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes. As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In the years after the first Flag Day, several states continued to observe the anniversary, and in 1949 Congress officially designated 14 JUN as Flag Day, a national day of observance.
- Sep 03 1783 – American Revolution: Treaty of Paris Signed » The American Revolution officially comes to an end when representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France sign the Treaty of Paris on this day in 1783. The signing signified America’s status as a free nation, as Britain formally recognized the independence of its 13 former American colonies, and the boundaries of the new republic were agreed upon: Florida north to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River.
The events leading up to the treaty stretched back to April 1775, on a common green in Lexington, Massachusetts, when American colonists answered King George III’s refusal to grant them political and economic reform with armed revolution. On July 4, 1776, more than a year after the first volleys of the war were fired, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. Five difficult years later, in October 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia, bringing to an end the last major battle of the Revolution.
In September 1782, Benjamin Franklin, along with John Adams and John Jay, began official peace negotiations with the British. The Continental Congress had originally named a five-person committee–including Franklin, Adams and Jay, along with Thomas Jefferson and Henry Laurens–to handle the talks. However, both Jefferson and Laurens missed the sessions–Jefferson had travel delays and Laurens had been captured by the British and was being held in the Tower of London. The U.S. delegation, which was distrustful of the French, opted to negotiate separately with the British.
During the talks Franklin demanded that Britain hand over Canada to the United States. This did not come to pass, but America did gain enough new territory south of the Canadian border to double its size. The United States also successfully negotiated for important fishing rights in Canadian waters and agreed, among other things, not to prevent British creditors from attempting to recover debts owed to them. Two months later, the key details had been hammered out and on November 30, 1782, the United States and Britain signed the preliminary articles of the treaty. France signed its own preliminary peace agreement with Britain on January 20, 1783, and then in September of that year, the final treaty was signed by all three nations and Spain. The Treaty of Paris was ratified by the Continental Congress on January 14, 1784.
- Sep 03 1812 – Native Americans: Pigeon Roost Massacre » A war party of Indians (mostly Shawnee, but possibly including some Delawares and Potawatomis) made a surprise attack on the village of Pigeon Roost, coordinated with attacks on Fort Harrison (near Terre Haute, Indiana) and Fort Wayne the same month. Twenty-four settlers, including fifteen children, were massacred. Two children were kidnapped. Only four of the Indian attackers were killed. According to contemporary reports, the leader of the attack was rumored to be an Indian named Missilemotaw. He was captured on September 20, 1813 and under threat of death confessed he had led the raid. He claimed to be a close confidant of the Indian chieftain Tecumseh and told his captors the British had been supplying the Indians with arms and equipment since 1809 in preparation for war. Of course, all of this is based on accounts by individuals long after the incidents happened, and are more likely to be story-telling rather than history. The raid was the first Indian attack in Indiana during the War of 1812.
- Sep 03 1826 – U.S. Navy: USS Vincennes leaves NY to become 1st warship to circumnavigate globe
- Sep 03 1855 – Native Americans: In Nebraska, 700 soldiers under American General William S. Harney avenge the Grattan Massacre by attacking a Sioux village, killing 100 men, women, and children.
- Sep 03 1861 – Civil War: Confederate Forces Enter Kentucky » Confederate General Leonidas Polk commits a major political blunder by marching his troops into Columbus, Kentucky–negating Kentucky’s avowed neutrality and causing the Unionist legislature to invite the U.S. government to drive the invaders away.
Kentucky was heavily divided prior to the war. Although slavery was prevalent in the state, nationalism was strong and Unionists prevented the calling of a convention to consider secession after the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861. Governor Beriah Magoffin refused to send troops to either side, and a special session of the legislature in the summer of 1861 issued a warning to both the Confederate and Union armies not to deploy forces in the state. Union and Confederates alike recognized the folly of entering Kentucky into the war, as it would tip the delicate political balance to the other side.
President Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky native who carefully observed the state’s neutrality, soon realized that the Confederates were acquiring resources and recruiting troops from the state. However, in three special elections held that summer, the Union cause had gained support. Kentucky’s geographic location made permanent neutrality nearly impossible. The major rivers of the upper south drained into the Ohio River through Kentucky, and the state had the country’s ninth largest population.
Troops from both sides began to build fortifications along the border in the opening months of the war, but the Confederates made a critical blunder when General Polk occupied Columbus, Kentucky, on September 3. This preemptive move against the forces of General Ulysses S. Grant, who waited across the Ohio River in Illinois, proved costly for the Confederates. Kentucky’s Unionist legislature invited Federal troops in to drive away the invaders, and on September 6, Grant occupied Paducah and Southland, at the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, respectively. These were vital positions that allowed the Union a tremendous advantage in the contest for Kentucky and Tennessee.
During the war, some 50,000 white and 24,000 black Kentuckians fought for the North, while 35,000 joined the South.
- Sep 03 1864 – Civil War: Battle of Berryville, Virginia (3-4 SEP) » The battle was fought toward the end of the War in Clarke County, Virginia. After taking control of Smithfield Summit on 29 AUG, Union Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan marched to Berryville with his 50,000 man Army of the Shenandoah. At the same time Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early sent Maj. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw’s division east from Winchester to Berryville. At about 5:00 p.m., Kershaw attacked Colonel Joseph Thoburn’s division of the Army of West Virginia, while they were preparing to go into camp. Kershaw routed Thoburn’s left flank before the rest of the corps came to the rescue. Darkness ended the fighting, with both sides bringing in heavy reinforcements. The next morning, Early, seeing the strength of the Union’s entrenched line, retreated behind Opequon Creek. Estimated Casualties: 500 total.
- Sep 03 1916 – WWI: Allies turned back Germans in WWI’s Battle of Verdun.
- Sep 03 1916 – WWI: German Strategic Bombing » The first night raid by German Gotha aircraft takes place against Chatham in southeastern England, as an experiment by five aircraft. The 152 deaths included 130 naval recruits whose dormitory was hit, the worst bombing incident of the war. Encouraged by the lack of night defenses, a raid on London was carried out the following night. Of the eleven aircraft which set out to bomb London, nine reached England and five got as far as London.
The best-known German strategic bombing campaign was its campaign against Britain, although strategic bombing raids were carried out or attempted on other fronts. The main campaign against Britain started in January 1915 using airships. From then until the end of World War I the German Navy and Army Luftstreitkräfte mounted over 50 bombing raids on the United Kingdom. These were generally referred to as “Zeppelin raids”: although both Zeppelin and Schütte-Lanz airships were used, the Zeppelin Company was much better known and was responsible for producing the majority of the airships used.
The first daylight raid on London by Gotha bombers took place 13 June 1917. It caused 162 deaths and 426 injuries, the most by any single air raid on Britain. Mounting Gotha losses through the summer, however, forced a switch to night bombing in September 1917. Weather conditions and night flying conditions made airship navigation and maintaining bombing accuracy difficult. Bombs were often dropped miles off target (one raid on London actually bombed Hull) and accurate targeting of military installations was impossible. The civilian casualties made the Zeppelins an object of hatred, and they were dubbed “baby-killers”. With the development of effective defensive measures the airship raids became increasingly hazardous, and in 1917 the airships were largely replaced by aeroplanes.
Although the military effect of the raids was small, they caused widespread alarm, leading to the diversion of substantial resources from the Western Front and some disruption to industrial production. Concern about the conduct of defense against the raids, the responsibility for which was divided between the Admiralty and the Army, led to a parliamentary inquiry under Jan Smuts, whose report was to lead to the creation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 1 April 1918. The defense organization developed by the British was an important precursor of the fighter direction system that would prove vital in winning the Battle of Britain. The raids were also influential because they led to an overestimation of both the material and psychological effects of the bombing of cities. A minor consequence of the risk of being driven out of bed at night was the development of night clothes for women.
Airships made about 51 bombing raids on Britain during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents. Aeroplanes carried out 27 raids with a loss of 62 aircraft, dropping 246,774 pounds of bombs resulting in ground casualties of 835 dead, 1,972 injured and £1,418,272 of material damage.
- Sep 03 1916 – WWI: Pope Benedict XV influence on the war » Barely a month after the outbreak of World War I, Giacomo della Chiesa is elected to the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, becoming Pope Benedict XV. An aristocratic native of Genoa, Italy, who had served as a cardinal since the previous May, Benedict succeeded Pius X, who died on August 20, 1914. He was elected by a constituency made up of cardinals from countries on both sides of the battle lines, because he professed strict neutrality in the conflict. Calling the Great War “the suicide of Europe,” Benedict became an insistent voice for peace from the beginning of his reign, though his calls were roundly ignored by the belligerent powers.
After proposing the idea of a general Christmas truce in 1914 without success—although some pauses in the fighting did occur spontaneously in various places along the Western Front that Christmas, initiated by the soldiers—Benedict began to lose influence even within Italy as that nation readied itself to join the war effort. In the months preceding Italy’s declaration of war on Austria-Hungary in May 1915, Benedict’s steady urging for peace was seen as interfering with the national will to fight. In the Treaty of London, which set the conditions for Italy’s participation in the war, the Allies agreed with Italy that any peace overtures from the Vatican to the Central Powers should be ignored.
On August 1, 1917, Benedict issued a seven-point peace proposal addressed to “the heads of the belligerent peoples.” In it, he expressed the need for a cessation of hostilities, general reduction of armaments, freedom of the seas and international arbitration of any territorial questions among the warring nations. The proposal was widely rejected by all the warring powers, which were by this point dedicated to an absolute victory and would not consider compromise. To make matters worse, both sides saw the Vatican as prejudiced in favor of the other and refused to accept the pope’s terms. This situation continued in the immediate post-armistice period, when despite its entreaties to be involved in the determination of the peace settlement, Benedict’s Vatican was excluded from the Paris Peace Conference, held at Versailles in 1919.
Sep 03 1919 – Post WWI: Wilson Promotes League of Nations » President Woodrow Wilson embarks on a tour across the United States to promote American membership in the League of Nations, an international body that he hoped would help to solve international conflicts and prevent another bloody world war like the one from which the country had just emerged—World War I. The tour took an enormous toll on Wilson’s health.
The First World War, which had begun in 1914, grimly illustrated to Wilson the unavoidable relationship between international stability and American national security. In January 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I, Wilson urged leaders from France, Great Britain and Italy to come together with leaders of other nations to draft a Covenant of League of Nations. Wilson hoped such an organization would help countries to mediate conflicts before they caused war.
Having successfully broached the plan with European leaders, Wilson returned home to try to sell the idea to Congress. The plan for a League of Nations met with stiff opposition from the Republican majority in Congress. Wary of the international covenant’s vague language and legal loopholes regarding America’s sovereignty, Congress refused to adopt the agreement and did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles. Still, Wilson was undeterred.
At a stalemate with Congress, Wilson embarked on an arduous tour across the country to sell the idea of a League of Nations directly to the American people. He argued that isolationism did not work in a world in which violent revolutions and nationalist fervor spilled over national borders. He stressed that the League of Nations embodied American values of self-government and the desire to settle conflicts peacefully, and shared his vision of a future in which the international community could preempt another conflict as devastating as the First World War.
The tour’s intense schedule–8,000 miles in 22 days–cost Wilson his health. During the tour he suffered constant headaches and, in late September, collapsed from exhaustion in Pueblo, Colorado. He managed to return to Washington, but suffered a near-fatal stroke on 2 OCT. He recovered and continued to advocate passage of the covenant, but the stroke and Republican Warren Harding’s election to the presidency in 1921 effectively ended his campaign. The League of Nations was eventually created, but without the participation of the United States. America would not join a multinational league until after an even larger and more destructive world war forced the League to be reinvented as the United Nations.
- Sep 03 1939 – WW2: Britain and France Declare War on Nazi Germany » In response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Britain and France, both allies of the overrun nation declare war on Germany. Both begin a naval blockade of Germany that lasts until the end of the war. This also marks the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic.
British ocean liner Athenia sinking
The first casualty of that declaration was not German—but the British ocean liner Athenia, which was sunk by a German U-30 submarine that had assumed the liner was armed and belligerent. There were more than 1,100 passengers on board, 112 of whom lost their lives. Of those, 28 were Americans, but President Roosevelt was unfazed by the tragedy, declaring that no one was to “thoughtlessly or falsely talk of America sending its armies to European fields.” The United States would remain neutral.
As for Britain’s response, it was initially no more than the dropping of anti-Nazi propaganda leaflets—13 tons of them—over Germany. They would begin bombing German ships on 4 SEP, suffering significant losses. They were also working under orders not to harm German civilians. The German military, of course, had no such restrictions. France would begin an offensive against Germany’s western border two weeks later. Their effort was weakened by a narrow 90-mile window leading to the German front, enclosed by the borders of Luxembourg and Belgium—both neutral countries. The Germans mined the passage, stalling the French offensive.
- Sep 03 1939 – WW2: Australia and New Zealand declare war on Nazi Germany.
- Sep 03 1941 – WW2: 1st use of Zyclon–B gas in Auschwitz (on Russian prisoners of war).
- Sep 03 1942 – WW2: The Holocaust » In possibly the first Jewish ghetto uprising, residents of the Łachwa Ghetto in occupied Poland, informed of the upcoming “liquidation” of the ghetto, unsuccessfully fought against their Nazi captors.
- Sep 03 1943 – WW2: Allies Invade Italian Mainland » The British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery begins the Allied invasion of the Italian peninsula, crossing the Strait of Messina from Sicily and landing at Calabria–the “toe” of Italy. On the day of the landing, the Italian government secretly agreed to the Allies’ terms for surrender, but no public announcement was made until 8 SEP.
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini envisioned building Fascist Italy into a new Roman Empire, but a string of military defeats in World War II effectively made his regime a puppet of its stronger Axis partner, Germany. By the spring of 1943, opposition groups in Italy were uniting to overthrow Mussolini and make peace with the Allies, but a strong German military presence in Italy threatened to resist any such action.
Field Marshal George Montgomery and Marshal Pietro Badoglio
On July 10, 1943, the Allies began their invasion of Axis-controlled Europe with landings on the island of Sicily, off mainland Italy. Encountering little resistance from demoralized Sicilian troops, Montgomery’s 8th Army came ashore on the southeast part of the island, while the U.S. 7th Army, under General George S. Patton, landed on Sicily’s south coast. Within three days, 150,000 Allied troops were ashore. On 17 AUG, Patton arrived in Messina before Montgomery, completing the Allied conquest of Sicily and winning the so-called Race to Messina.
In Rome, the Allied conquest of Sicily, a region of the kingdom of Italy since 1860, led to the collapse of Mussolini’s government. Early in the morning of 25 JUL, he was forced to resign by the Fascist Grand Council and was arrested later that day. On 26 JUL, Marshal Pietro Badoglio assumed control of the Italian government. The new government promptly entered into secret negotiations with the Allies, despite the presence of numerous German troops in Italy.
On 3 SEP, Montgomery’s 8th Army began its invasion of the Italian mainland and the Italian government agreed to surrender to the Allies. By the terms of the agreement, the Italians would be treated with leniency if they aided the Allies in expelling the Germans from Italy. Later that month, Mussolini was rescued from a prison in the Abruzzo Mountains by German commandos and was installed as leader of a Nazi puppet state in northern Italy.
In October, the Badoglio government declared war on Germany, but the Allied advance up through Italy proved to be a slow and costly affair. Rome fell in June 1944, at which point a stalemate ensued as British and American forces threw most of their resources into the Normandy invasion. In April 1945, a new major offensive began, and on 28 APR Mussolini was captured by Italian partisans and summarily executed. German forces in Italy surrendered on May 1, and six days later all of Germany surrendered.
- Sep 03 1944 – WW2: Anne Frank is Transported to Auschwitz » The 68th & last transport of Dutch Jews from Westerbork leaves for Auschwitz concentration camp and arrived after a three-day journey. In the chaos that marked the unloading of the trains, the men were forcibly separated from the women and children, and Otto Frank was wrenched from his family. Of the 1,019 passengers, 549—including all children younger than fifteen—were sent directly to the gas chambers. Anne had turned fifteen three months earlier and was one of the youngest people to be spared from her transport. She was soon made aware that most people were gassed upon arrival, and never learned that the entire group from the Achterhuis had survived this selection. She reasoned that her father, in his mid-fifties and not particularly robust, had been killed immediately after they were separated.
Elected for labor due to their youth, Anne and her sister, Margot were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany in late October 1944. The women chosen from this transport, including Anne, Edith, and Margot, were tattooed with numbers between A-25060 and A-25271. Records indicating their exact numbers have not been preserved. Although Anne’s death certificate documents her movement between camps, it does not include her tattoo ID number either. Both sisters died of typhus in March 1945, just a few weeks before British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945.
SS officials also selected Anne’s parents for labor. Anne’s mother, Edith died in Auschwitz in early January 1945. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived the war after Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. Otto was presented later with Anne’s writings, which were preserved by Miep Gies one of the Dutch citizens who had hidden the Franks. Otto Frank was integral to getting his daughter’s diary published. The home at Prinsengracht 263 where the Franks hid in Amsterdam continues to attract a large audience. Now known as the Anne Frank House, it drew more than 1.2 million visitors in 2017.
- Sep 03 1944 – WW2: Canadian troops liberate Abbeville, France and Tank division of British Guards free Brussels.
- Sep 03 1950 – Vietnam War: U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) arrives in Saigon » 35 men arrive in Saigon to screen French requests for American military aid, assist in the training of South Vietnamese troops, and advise on strategy.
- Sep 03 1967 – Vietnam War: Thieu-Ky Ticket Wins National Election » In South Vietnam’s national election, General Thieu wins a four-year term as president with former Premier Nguyen Cao Ky as vice-president. They received only 34.8 percent of the votes cast, but the rest were divided among 10 other candidates. There were many allegations of corruption during the election, including charges of ballot rigging, but a favorable impression of the election process was reported by 22 prominent Americans who visited Vietnam as election observers. The Johnson administration cited the elections, held in the midst of war, as evidence that South Vietnam was maturing as a democratic nation.
- Sep 03 1990 – Cold War: Bush Prepares for Summit with Gorbachev » President George Bush prepares for his first summit meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The theme of the meeting was cooperation between the two superpowers in dealing with the Iraqi crisis in the Middle East. The summit suggested that Bush would stay with the Reagan-era diplomatic approach. Although no groundbreaking agreements emerged from the Bush-Gorbachev meeting in Helsinki, the two nations agreed to cooperate in handling the Iraqi crisis.
- Sep 04 1780 – American Revolution: Patriot Francis Marion’s Carolina militia routs Loyalists at Blue Savannah, South Carolina, and in the process Marion wins 60 new recruits to the Patriot cause.
- Sep 04 1804 – First Barbary War: USS Intrepid Explodes » The captured ketch was loaded with 100 barrels of powder and 150 fixed shells, the fuses leading to the explosives were calculated to burn for 15 minutes. As the Intrepid approached the enemy fleet on its mission to destroy them they were discovered and fired upon by carronades from the overlooking shore batteries. At 8:30 before the Intrepid could get to its final position it exploded, lighting up the entire scene and sending the hull, yards and rigging and exploding shells in all directions, killing all on board.
- Sep 04 1812 – War of 1812: The Siege of Fort Harrison begins when the fort is set on fire.
- Sep 04 1862 – Civil War: Antietam (Maryland) Campaign (4-20 SEP) » Gen Lee invades Maryland (North) with 55,000 Confederate troops, starting the Antietam Campaign. Although Antietam was a tactical draw, it meant the strategy behind Lee’s Maryland campaign had failed. President Abraham Lincoln used this Union victory as the justification for announcing his Emancipation Proclamation, which effectively ended any threat of European support for the Confederacy. Lee’s first invasion of the North was repulsed by the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who moved to intercept Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia and eventually attacked it near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The resulting Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.
- Sep 04 1863 – Civil War: The Mobile Bread Riot » The riot was the result of rising prices and food shortages caused by the Union’s naval blockade of Mobile Bay. It was a notable instance of dissatisfaction in Alabama with the course of the war. It also stands out as a significant example of south Alabama’s economic hardship during the conflict.
With prices rising and the value of the Confederate dollar falling, Mobilians reacted harshly to the many instances of profiteering. In the spring of 1862, citizens called for, and received, a new law aimed at curbing excessive profits by prohibiting the stockpiling foodstuffs by companies or individuals. The citizens of Mobile also dismissed an attempt by city officials to pay for strengthened defenses of the city with a voluntary tax. As daily necessities became scarcer, Mobilians were forced to adapt. Old clothes were dyed to make them look new. Handmade pants and dresses replaced imports made of fine fabric. When the oil for the city’s street lamps ran out, workers replaced it with pitch and hard pine knots.
The riot was not a surprising event to some. Several city leaders had predicted such a possibility for some time because of the reluctance of Confederate authorities to reduce high prices and the frequency of food shortages in the Port City. Early in the war, city officials and private citizens organized several groups to reduce the severity of food shortages and care for the families of soldiers killed in battle. Some of the wealthiest Mobilians contributed to the Mobile Supply Association, which sold necessary goods at cost in an attempt to keep inflation in the city under control. None of these efforts succeeded; by the spring of 1862 prices for certain foods were reported as soaring to as much as 750 percent above cost. By 1863, molasses, which before the war sold for less than $.30 per gallon, rose to $7.00 per gallon, and the cost of a barrel of flour rose from $44.00 to more than $400.00.
Gen. Dabney H. Maury dispatched the Seventeenth Alabama Regiment to quell the riot, but the soldiers refused to intervene. The Mobile Cadets, a local military company, also were unsuccessful in stopping the looting. The task of ending the riot fell to the city’s mayor, Robert H. Slough, who effectively pleaded with the rioters to disperse, promising to meet with representatives to hear their complaints. The mayor also addressed the citizens of Mobile through a letter in the evening paper, asking wealthier Mobilians to contribute money for the purchase of food and clothing. From this plea, the Special Relief Committee was created to distribute the supplies to the neediest citizens.
- Sep 04 1864 – Civil War: John Hunt Morgan, the feared Confederate cavalry leader, is killed. At the time of his death, Morgan was preparing for a raid on Knoxville, Tennessee. Alerted to his presence, Union cavalry attacked his headquarters at Greenville. Morgan was shot and killed while trying to join his men.
- Sep 04 1886 – Native Americans: The Last American Indian Warrior Surrenders » Apache chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. government troops. For 30 years, the mighty Native American warrior had battled to protect his tribe’s homeland; however, by 1886 the Apaches were exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered. General Nelson Miles accepted Geronimo’s surrender, making him the last Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces and signaling the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest.
Band of Apache Indian prisoners at rest stop beside Southern Pacific Railway, near Nueces River, Texas. (Geronimo is third from the right, in front), September 10, 1886
Geronimo was born in 1829 and grew up in what is present-day Arizona and Mexico. His tribe, the Chiricahua Apaches, clashed with non-Indian settlers trying to take their land. In 1858, Geronimo’s family was murdered by Mexicans. Seeking revenge, he later led raids against Mexican and American settlers. In 1874, the U.S. government moved Geronimo and his people from their land to a reservation in east-central Arizona. Conditions on the reservation were restrictive and harsh and Geronimo and some of his followers escaped. Over the next decade, they battled federal troops and launched raids on white settlements. During this time, Geronimo and his supporters were forced back onto the reservation several times. In May 1885, Geronimo and approximately 150 followers fled one last time. They were pursued into Mexico by 5,000 U.S. troops.
In March 1886, General George Crook forced Geronimo to surrender; however, Geronimo quickly escaped and continued his raids. General Nelson Miles then took over the pursuit of Geronimo, eventually forcing him to surrender that September near Fort Bowie along the Arizona-New Mexico border. Geronimo and a band of Apaches were sent to Florida and then Alabama, eventually ending up at the Comanche and Kiowa reservation near Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory. There, Geronimo became a successful farmer and converted to Christianity. He participated in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. The Apache chief dictated his autobiography, published in 1906 as Geronimo’s Story of His Life. He died at Fort Sill on February 17, 1909.
- Sep 04 1914 – WWI: France, Russia, and Britain agree in a Pact of London that none will make a separate peace. They signed the Pact on 5 SEP.
- Sep 04 1918 – U.S.*Haiti: The U.S. military places Haiti under martial law to quell a rebellion in its capital Port-au-Prince.
- Sep 04 1918 – WWI: American Troops Land at Archangel » The landing in northern Russia. was part of an Allied intervention in the civil war raging in that country after revolution in 1917 led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in favor of a provisional government; the seizure of power by Vladimir Lenin and his radical socialist Bolshevik Party; and, finally, Russia’s withdrawal from participation alongside the Allies in World War I.
By the spring of 1918, after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended Russia’s war effort against the Central Powers, the country was embroiled in a heated internal conflict. Supporters of the Bolsheviks—known as the Reds—faced off against the Whites, anti-Bolshevik forces loyal to the provisional government, in a power struggle aimed at defining the future course of the Russian state. In this struggle, the leaders of Britain, France and the United States definitively favored the Whites, harboring as they did an intense fear and misunderstanding of Lenin and his forces of radical socialism. With some hesitation, they determined to launch an intervention into the Russian civil war, aimed at defeating the Bolsheviks and installing the Whites in power again, hoping this eventuality would draw Russia back into the war against the Central Powers.
A document issued by the U.S. State Department in July 1918 set the terms by which the U.S. would participate alongside the other Allied powers in the so-called “interventions” in Russia: three infantry battalions and three companies of army engineers would be sent to Archangel to join the British troops already there. A small force would also be sent to Vladivostok, where a force of Czecho-Slovak troops bent on continuing the fight against the Central Powers had claimed the Russian city as an Allied protectorate early in July. According to the State Department, Allied responsibilities in Russia were clear: “…Each of the associated powers has the single object of affording such aid as shall be acceptable, and only such aid as shall be acceptable, to the Russian people in their endeavor to regain control of their own affairs, their own territory, and their own destiny.”
The Allied intervention in Russia would continue throughout the end of World War I and the peace negotiations at Versailles, from which the Russian Bolsheviks were excluded. By October 1919, White Russian forces were in full retreat in the south, and Lenin and his Bolsheviks had effectively consolidated power for their regime. Recognizing the futility of their intervention in the costly and distant conflict in Russia, Allied forces began to withdraw. By the time the American troops completed their evacuation of Vladivostok and Archangel, 174 of them had been killed in action or died of wounds incurred over the course of the intervention.
- Sep 04 1919 – Post WWI: British Intervene in Petrograd » The British campaign in the Baltic 1918–19 was a part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. The codename of the Royal Navy campaign was “Operation Red Trek”. Launched in the wake of the Russian collapse and revolution of 1917, the purposes of Operation Red Trek were to stop the rise of Bolshevism, to protect Britain’s interests, and to extend the freedom of the seas.
The situation in the Baltic states in the aftermath of World War I was chaotic. The Russian Empire had collapsed and Bolshevik Red Army, pro-independence, and pro-German forces were fighting across the region. Riga, the capital of Latvia, had been occupied by the German army in 1917 and German Freikorps and Baltic-German Landeswehr units were still active in the area. Estonia had established a national army with the support of Finnish volunteers and were defending against the 7th Red Army’s attack. The British intervention played a key role in enabling the establishment of the independent states of Estonia and Latvia but failed to secure the control of Petrograd by White Russian forces, which was one of the main goals of the campaign.
- Sep 04 1923 – U.S. Navy: Maiden flight of the first U.S. airship, the USS Shenandoah.
- Sep 04 1939 – WW2: Holocaust » Mir, a Nazi ghetto in occupied Poland, is exterminated.
- Sep 04 1939 – WW2: RAF bombs Wilhelmshaven Germany » First RAF Bomber Command raid of World War II. Ten Bristol Blenheims of No. 110 and No. 107 Squadrons attacked units of the German fleet at low altitude, losing half their number without achieving any significantly damaging hits.
- Sep 04 1941 – WW2: Netherlands & Belgium declare neutrality
- Sep 04 1941 – PreWW2: The American destroyer Greer becomes the first U.S. vessel fired on in the war when the German U-652 sub aims a few torpedoes at it off Iceland, sparking heightened tensions between Germany and the United States. It was a case of mistaken identity. Roosevelt unofficially declared war on anyone who further attacked American vessels in the North Atlantic: “If German or Italian vessels of war enter these waters, they do so at their own peril.”
- Sep 04 1942 – WW2: Soviet planes bomb Budapest in the war’s first air raid on the Hungarian capital.
- Sep 04 1943 – WW2: Allied troops capture Lae-Salamaua, in New Guinea.
- Sep 04 1944 – WW2: British troops liberate Antwerp, Belgium.
- Sep 04 1945 – WW2: Japanese Surrender Wake Island » The Wake Island Japanese garrison’s 2,200 Japanese soldiers finally lay down their arms and surrender to a detachment of U.S. Marines days after their government had already formally capitulated. Wake Island was one of the islands bombed as part of a wider bombing raid that coincided with the attack on Pearl Harbor and they had held since 23 December of 1941.
- Sep 04 1954 – Cold War: U.S. Aircraft Shot Down by Soviets » A U.S. Navy P2v Neptune aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters approximately 40 miles off the Siberian coast. The aircraft’s navigator ENS Henry Reid was missing and presumed dead; the 9 other crewmembers were rescued from the water by US forces. The Soviet Union charged the plane had entered Soviet airspace and fired on Soviet aircraft, charges rejected by the United States.
- Sep 04 1957 – Cold War: Little Rock becomes Hotspot » Under orders from the governor of Arkansas, armed National Guardsmen prevent nine African-American students from attending the all-white Central High School in Little Rock. What began as a domestic crisis soon exploded into a Cold War embarrassment.
The United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a heated and costly war of words during the early years of the Cold War. Propaganda became an important weapon as each nation sought to win the “hearts and minds” of people around the world. In this war, the United States suffered from one undeniable weakness: racial discrimination in America. This was a particularly costly weakness, for it made America’s rhetoric about democracy and equality seem hollow, especially to people of color in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The Soviets eagerly seized on the issue, and tales of the horrors suffered by African Americans in the United States became a staple of their propaganda. In 1954, however, the monumental Supreme Court case of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education declared segregated schools unconstitutional and ordered school integration to proceed “with all deliberate speed.” The case was trumpeted by the American government’s propaganda as evidence of the great strides being made toward full equality for all citizens.
The “Little Rock Nine” are escorted inside Little Rock Central High School by troops of the 101st Airborne
Division of the United States Army.
In 1957, a Federal District Court ordered the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, to allow African-American students to attend. Governor Orval Faubus declared that he would not follow the decree. When nine African-American students attempted to enter the school on September 4, 1957, a crowd of several hundred angry and belligerent whites confronted them. Hundreds of National Guardsmen, called up by Faubus, blocked the students’ entry into the school. To the chants of “Go home, n******” from the mob, the nine students left. Faubus’s action won him acclaim in his home state, and in much of the South, but it was a serious embarrassment to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eisenhower himself was no great supporter of civil rights, but he understood the international significance of the events in Little Rock. Pictures of the angry mob, the terrified African-American students, and National Guardsmen with guns and gas masks were seen around the world. The Soviets could not have created better propaganda. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles informed Eisenhower that the Little Rock incident was hurting the United States overseas, and might even cost the country the support of other nations in the United Nations. Eisenhower tried to negotiate a settlement with Faubus, but when this failed, he sent in federal troops. The nine African-American students were finally allowed to attend Central High.
The Little Rock incident indicated that America’s domestic problems, particularly racial discrimination, could not remain purely domestic in the context of the Cold War. The United States portrayed itself as the defender of democracy, justice, and equality in its struggle with the Soviet Union and communism. The ugly reality of the Little Rock integration, however, forced both allies and enemies to question America’s dedication to the principles it so often professed.
- Sep 04 1967 – Vietnam War: Operation Swift (4-15 Sep) » The U.S. 1st Marine Division launches Operation SWIFT, a search and destroy operation in Quang Nam and Quang Tin Provinces in I Corps Tactical Zone (the region south of the Demilitarized Zone). A fierce four-day battle ensued in the Que Son Valley, 25 miles south of Da Nang. During the course of the battle, 114 men of the U.S. 5th Marine Regiment were killed while the North Vietnamese forces suffered 376 casualties.
- Sep 04 1969 – Vietnam War: Radio Hanoi announces the death of Ho Chi Minh, proclaiming that the National Liberation Front will halt military operations in the South for three days, September 8-11, in mourning for Ho. He had been the spiritual leader of the communists in Vietnam since the earliest days of the struggle against the French and, later, the United States and its ally in Saigon.
- Sep 04 1975 – Israel*Egypt: The Sinai II Agreement between Egypt and Israel pledges that conflicts between the two countries “shall not be resolved by military force but by peaceful means.”
- Sep 4 1999 – Terrorism: Russian Apartment Bombings (4-16 Sep) » The Russian apartment bombings were a series of explosions that hit four apartment blocks in the Russian cities of Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk in September 1999, killing more than 300, injuring more than 1000, and spreading a wave of fear across the country. The bombings, together with the Dagestan War, led the country into the Second Chechen War. Vladimir Putin’s handling of the crisis boosted his popularity and helped him attain the presidency within a few months. The blasts hit:
- Buynaksk on 4 SEP in which 64 people were killed and 133 were injured and in
- Moscow on 9 SEP killing 106 people and injuring 249
- Moscow on 13 SEP with 119 people killed and 200 injured
- Volgodonsk on 16 SEP killing 17 people and injuring 69.
On 13 SEP Russian Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznyov made an announcement in the Duma about receiving a report that another bombing had just happened in the city of Volgodonsk. A bombing did indeed happen in Volgodonsk, but only three days later, on 16 SEP. Chechen militants were blamed for the bombings, but denied responsibility, along with Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov. An explosive device similar to those used in these bombings was found and defused in an apartment block in the Russian city of Ryazan on 22 SEP. The next day, Vladimir Putin praised the vigilance of the inhabitants of Ryazan and ordered the air bombing of Grozny, which marked the beginning of the Second Chechen War. Three FSB agents who had planted the devices at Ryazan were arrested by the local police. The incident was declared to have been a training exercise and the agents were released on Moscow’s orders.
The official Russian investigation of the bombings was completed in 2002 and concluded that all the bombings were organized and led by Achemez Gochiyaev, who remains at large, and ordered by Islamist warlords Ibn Al-Khattab and Abu Omar al-Saif, who have been killed. Five other suspects have been killed and six have been convicted by Russian courts on terrorism-related charges. According to historians, the bombings were coordinated by the Russian state security services to bring Putin into the presidency. This view was justified by a number of suspicious events, including bombs planted by FSB agents in the city of Ryazan, an announcement about bombing in the city of Volgodonsk three days before it had happened by Russian Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznyov, weak evidence and denials by suspects none of whom was a Chechen, and poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko who wrote two books on the subject.
- Sep 05 1774 – American Revolution: First Session of Continental Congress » In response to the British Parliament’s enactment of the Coercive Acts in the American colonies, the first session of the Continental Congress convenes at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Fifty-six delegates from all the colonies except Georgia drafted a declaration of rights and grievances and elected Virginian Peyton Randolph as the first president of Congress. Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Adams, and John Jay were among the delegates.
The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Under the argument of “no taxation without representation,” colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax. With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.
Most colonists continued to quietly accept British rule until Parliament’s enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In response, militant Patriots in Massachusetts organized the “Boston Tea Party,” which saw British tea valued at some Ý18,000 dumped into Boston harbor.
Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.
With the other colonies watching intently, Massachusetts led the resistance to the British, forming a shadow revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist the increasing British military presence across the colony. In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.
More than a year later, on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. Five years later, in October 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia, bringing to an end the last major battle of the Revolution. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain in 1783, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.
- Sep 05 1776 – American Revolution: Naval Uniforms Adopted » The Continental Navy adopts the first uniforms for naval officers. The dress prescribed was extremely somber and reflected the attitude of the Congress to eliminate the ornate trappings evidenced in the Royal Navy and move towards a democratic society. The naval officers quickly rebelled and demanded a more ornate uniform with dark blue coat and tri-corner hat, colored facings, and cuffs with gold buttons and lace, a uniform strikingly similar to that of the Royal Navy.
- Sep 05 1781 – American Revolution: Battle of the Virginia Capes (Battle of the Chesapeake) » The British Navy under Admiral Graves is repelled by the French fleet of 24 ships under Comte de Grasse, leading to the British surrender on 19 OCT at Yorktown. The result of this led the British to abandon the effort to prevent American independence. Casualties and losses: FR 220 – GB 336
- Sep 05 1812 – War of 1812: The Siege of Fort Wayne begins when Chief Winamac’s forces attack two soldiers returning from the fort’s outhouses.
- Sep 05 1813 – War of 1812: Boxer vs Enterprise » The USS Enterprise, which had a crew of 102 and had 16 guns, was patrolling off Maine when it spotted the HMS Boxer a British brig with 14 guns and 66 men off Pemaquid Point. Commanding the Enterprise was Lieutenant William Burrows and commanding the Boxer was Captain Samuel Blyth. Both captains resolved to fight to the finish. Captain Blythe went as far as to nail the flag to a foremast of the ship. As the ships closed both opened fire. In the initial exchange Captain Blyth was killed. A moment later Burrows was mortally wounded. Within 30 minutes the fight was over, the Boxer was in ruins. As the battle ended the dying Burrows was presented with Blyth’s sword. He declined the sword saying, I am satisfied, I die contented. The Enterprise brought the Boxer into Portland Maine. There a state funeral was held for both men who were buried side by side.
- Sep 05 1863 – Civil War: U.S. Foreign Minister Threatens the British Over Ships » The United States Foreign Minister to Great Britain, Charles Francis Adams, sends an angry letter to the British government warning that war between the two nations could erupt if it allows a pair of powerful ironclad ships, designed to help the Confederates break the Union naval blockade, to set sail. The British argued that selling ships to the Confederates was not a violation of their Neutrality Act of 1819 so long as they were not armed. So the Confederacy simply purchased the ships and then took them to another port before adding the armament.
- Sep 05 1877 – Native Americans: Crazy Horse Killed » Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted by a U.S. soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. A year earlier, Crazy Horse was among the Sioux leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana Territory. The battle, in which 265 members of the Seventh Cavalry, including Custer, were killed, was the worst defeat of the U.S. Army in its long history of warfare with the Native Americans.
Crazy Horse (left) and his Memorial mountain monument in the Black Hills, South Dakota (right)
After the victory at Little Bighorn, U.S. Army forces led by Colonel Nelson Miles pursued Crazy Horse and his followers. His tribe suffered from cold and starvation, and on May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse surrendered to General George Crook at the Red Cloud Indian Agency in Nebraska. He was sent to Fort Robinson, where he was killed in a scuffle with soldiers who were trying to imprison him in a cell.
- Sep 05 1905 – Russo*Japanese War: War ends as representatives of the combating empires, meeting in New Hampshire, sign the Treaty of Portsmouth. Japan achieves virtually all of its original war aims. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt for his role as mediator receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Sep 05 1914 – PreWW1: US President Woodrow Wilson orders U.S. Navy to make its wireless stations accessible for any transatlantic communications – even to German diplomats sending coded messages. This leads to the interception of the Zimmermann telegram, helping bring the U.S. into the war.
- Sep 05 1915 – WW1: Russia Mobilizes » Tsar Nicholas II approved the mobilization in 1914 which led to Russian entry in World War I. This conflict was catastrophic for the country and for the House of Romanov, with over 3 million Russians killed and sharp deterioration in living conditions across the country. Though it was part of the Allies, Russia was defeated by Germany. Distressed by increasing Russian losses, on 5 SEP he assumed personal command of his nation’s military forces; clearly a symbolic act and devastating for his leadership. The war directly led to the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which Nicholas abdicated following riots and the Russian monarchy collapsed. He and his family were taken into custody and executed by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg in July 1918.
- Sep 05 1918 – WWI: The transport, USS Mount Vernon (ID# 4508), is torpedoed by German submarine U-82 off France. Thirty-six of her crew are killed and another 13 are injured, but damage control efforts contain her flooding and keep her underway.
- Sep 05 1923 – U.S. Navy: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet arrives at Yokohama, Japan, to provide medical assistance and supplies after the Great Kanto earthquake, occurs just days prior. On 1 SEP, during the earthquake, Lt. j.g. Thomas J. Ryan rescues a woman from the burning Grand Hotel in Yokohama. For his “extraordinary heroism” on that occasion, he is awarded the Medal of Honor.
- Sep 05 1939 – PreWW2: Neutrality Patrol » On 3 SEP President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared U.S. neutrality at the start of WWII in Europe. The next day the United States Navy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) established a combined air and ship patrol of the United States Atlantic coast, including the Caribbean which on 5 SEP the president declared a Neutrality Patrol. In fact it also escorted British ships, as well as orders to U.S. Navy destroyers first to actively report U-boats, then “shoot on sight”, which meant American neutrality was honored more in the breach than observance.
U.S. Navy Vought SBU-1 dive bombers of scouting squadron VS-42 flying the Neutrality Patrol in 1940
- Sep 05 1942 – WW2: Japanese high command orders withdrawal at Milne Bay, first Japanese defeat in the Pacific War.
- Sep 05 1942 – WW2: Battle of Alam el Halfa (30 Aug – 5 Sep) » The Battle took place south of El Alamein during the Western Desert Campaign. German Gen. Erwin Rommel attempted an envelopment of the British Eighth Army under Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery. In Operation Surf, the last big Axis offensive of the Western Desert Campaign, Rommel intended to defeat the Eighth Army before Allied reinforcements arrived.
Montgomery knew of Axis intentions through Ultra signals intercepts and left a gap in the southern sector of the front, knowing that Rommel planned to attack there and deployed the bulk of his armor and artillery around Alam el Halfa Ridge, 20 miles behind the front. The tanks were to be used as anti-tank guns, remaining in their defensive positions on the ridge. When Axis attacks on the ridge failed and ran short on supplies, Rommel ordered a withdrawal. The 2nd New Zealand Division conducted Operation Beresford against Italian positions, which was a costly failure.
Montgomery chose not to exploit his defensive victory, preferring to continue the methodical buildup of strength for his autumn offensive, the Second Battle of El Alamein. Rommel claimed that British air superiority determined the result, being unaware of British Ultra intelligence. Rommel adapted to the increasing Allied dominance in the air by keeping his forces dispersed. With the failure at Alam Halfa, the Axis forces in Africa lost the initiative and Axis strategic aims in Africa were no longer possible.
- Sep 05 1943 – WW2: Salamaua–Lae campaign (22 Apr – 16 Sep) » Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s 503rd Parachute Regiment land and occupy Nazdab, just east of Lae, a port city in northeastern Papua New Guinea, situating them perfectly for future operations on the islands.
- Sep 05 1944 – WW2: Germany launches its first V-2 missile at Paris, France.
- Sep 05 1945 – Cold War: Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet Union embassy clerk, defects to Canada with over 100 documents on Soviet espionage activities and sleeper agents exposing Soviet espionage in North America, signaling the beginning of the Cold War.
Gouzenko wearing his white hood for anonymity
- Sep 05 1946 – Cold War: USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB 42), and four escorts visit Greece to underscore U.S. support for the Greek Government which faced a Communist insurgency.
- Sep 05 1958 – Cold War: Dr. Zhivago Appears in U.S. » Boris Pasternak’s romantic novel, Dr. Zhivago is published in the United States. The book was banned in the Soviet Union, but still won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.
Pasternak was born in Russia in 1890, and by the time of the Russian Revolution was a well-known avant-garde poet. His work fell into disfavor during the 1920s and 1930s as the communist regime of Joseph Stalin imposed strict censorship on Russian art and literature. During this time, Pasternak eked out a living as a translator. In 1956, he completed the book that would make him a worldwide name. Dr. Zhivago was an epic love story set during the tumult of the Russian Revolution and World War I. The book infuriated Soviet officials, particularly Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
The Soviets argued that the book romanticized the pre-Revolution Russian upper class and degraded the peasants and workers who fought against the czarist regime. The official Soviet press refused to publish the book and Pasternak found himself the target of unrelenting criticisms. Admirers of Pasternak’s work, however, began secretly to smuggle the manuscript out of Russia piece by piece. By 1958, the book began to appear in numerous translations around the world, including an edition in the United States that appeared on September 5, 1958. The book was hailed as an instant classic, and Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.
None of the acclaim for the book helped Pasternak, though. The Soviet government refused to allow him to accept the Nobel Prize, and he was banished from the Soviet Writers Union. The latter action ended Pasternak’s writing career. Pasternak died in May 1960 from a combination of cancer and heart disease. Dr. Zhivago refused to die with him, though. In 1965, it was made into a hit movie starring Omar Sharif as the title character. In 1987, as part of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s democratic reforms, Pasternak, though dead for nearly 30 years, was readmitted to the union and his book was finally published in Russia.
- Sep 05 1969 – Vietnam War: My Lai Massacre » Lt. William Calley is charged with six specifications of premeditated murder in the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in March 1968. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets that made up Son My village in Son Tinh District in Quang Ngai Province in the coastal lowlands of I Corps Tactical Zone on March 16, 1968.
The company had been conducting a search and destroy mission as part of the yearlong Operation Wheeler/Wallowa (November 1967 through November 1968). In search of the 48th Viet Cong (VC) Local Force Battalion, the unit entered Son My village but found only women, children, and old men. Frustrated by unanswered losses due to snipers and mines, the soldiers took out their anger on the villagers, indiscriminately shooting people as they ran from their huts and systematically rounding up the survivors, allegedly leading them to nearby ditch where they were executed.
Reportedly, the killing was only stopped when Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, an aero-scout helicopter pilot landed his helicopter between the Americans and the fleeing South Vietnamese, confronting the soldiers and blocking them from further action against the villagers. The incident was subsequently covered up, but eventually came to light a year later. An Army board of inquiry, headed by Lt. Gen. William Peers, investigated the massacre and produced a list of 30 persons who knew of the atrocity, but only 14, including Calley and his company commander, Captain Ernest Medina, were charged with crimes.
All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted by courts-martial except Calley, whose platoon allegedly killed 200 innocents. He was found guilty of personally murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment, but his sentence was reduced to 20 years by the Court of Military Appeals and further reduced later to 10 years by the Secretary of the Army. Proclaimed by much of the public as a “scapegoat,” Calley was paroled by President Richard Nixon in 1974 after having served about a third of his 10-year sentence.
- Sep 05 1970 – Vietnam War: Last Major American Operation of the War (5 Sep – 8 Oct) » The 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), in coordination with the South Vietnamese (ARVN) 1st Infantry Division, initiates Operation Jefferson Glenn in Thua Thien Province west of Hue. This operation lasted until October 1971, and was one of the last major large-scale military operations in which U.S. ground forces would take part.
President Nixon had begun his Vietnamization program in the summer of 1969; the objective was to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese forces so that they could assume responsibility for the war against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese forces as U.S. combat units were withdrawn and sent home. Shortly after the completion of Jefferson Glenn, the 101st Airborne began preparations to depart South Vietnam and subsequently began redeployment to the United States in March 1972.
- Sep 05 1970 – Terrorism: Arab Terrorists take Israeli Hostages at the Olympics » In the early morning hours of 5 SEP, six members of the Arab terrorist group known as Black September dressed in the Olympic sweat suits of Arab nations and jumped the fence surrounding the Olympic village in Munich, Germany, carrying bags filled with guns. Although guards spotted them, they paid little attention because athletes often jumped the fence during the competition to return to their living quarters. After changing into disguises, the terrorists, toting machine guns, burst into the apartments of 21 Israeli athletes and officials. Yossef Gutfreund, a wrestling referee who valiantly tried to keep the terrorists out, saved Tuvia Sokolovsky, who was able to climb out a window and escape. In another apartment, Moshe Weinberg was shot 12 times but still managed to wound one of the terrorists and save the life of one of his teammates.
Created in 1970 by a few survivors of the “ten terrible September days” of fighting against Jordan for a Palestinian homeland, Black September succeeded in taking nine hostages before demanding the release of 234 prisoners-most of whom were Arab terrorists. The demands were categorically refused, but it was eventually agreed that the terrorists and the hostages would be taken to the Furstenfeldbruck airport by helicopter and given a plane.
The German government planned an ambush at the airport, stationing sharpshooters around the runway and officers in the airplane. However, the plan quickly disintegrated when the officers in the plane, worried about their lack of preparation, deserted. There weren’t nearly enough sharpshooters to effectively take down all of the terrorists either, partly because the Germans didn’t realize that two other terrorists had joined the Black September attack. Still, the ambush was carried out. Three terrorists were taken out in the first wave of shots, but the others were able to hide out of range. One threw a grenade into a helicopter where five hostages were still tied up, instantly killing them all. Another terrorist fired his machine gun into another helicopter, killing the remaining hostages.
Twenty hours after Black September had begun their attack, a German police official, 5 Palestinian terrorists, and 11 Israeli athletes lay dead. Three of the terrorists who survived were imprisoned but were set free a month later when Arabs hijacked a Lufthansa 727 and demanded their release. A few days after the tragic event at the Olympics, Israel retaliated with air strikes against Syria and Lebanon, killing 66 people and wounding dozens. In addition, Israel sent out assassination squads to hunt down members of Black September while Israeli troops broke through the Lebanese border, igniting the heaviest fighting since the Six-Day War of 1967.
- Sep 05 1990 – U.S. Navy: The first wartime deployment of a male/female crew on a U.S. combat vessel occurs when the USS Acadia (AD-42) departs San Diego for Operation Desert Shield.
- Sep 06 1781 – American Revolution: Burning of New London, Connecticut » British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, a former Patriot officer already infamous and much maligned for betraying the United States the previous year, adds to his notoriety by ordering his British command to burn New London, Connecticut.
The Continental Army had been using New London to store a large stash of military supplies, but only stationed Captain Adam Sharpley and a contingent of 24 Continental soldiers there to protect it. General Arnold’s British soldiers, with help from the area’s Loyalists, quickly overwhelmed Captain Sharpley and the Continentals, who had no other option but to retreat and leave New London and the military supplies unguarded.
After looting the town, Arnold ordered his British soldiers to set fire to every building, causing the equivalent of more than $500,000 in damages. Benedict Arnold was already despised throughout the colonies for his attempt to sell the Patriot fort at West Point, New York, to the British in 1780 for a bribe of £20,000. The burning of New London sealed his reputation as a public enemy and his name became a synonym in common American parlance for “traitor.” The bravery and military prowess Arnold had previously demonstrated on behalf of the Patriots at Ticonderoga and Quebec in 1775 have been completely overshadowed by his later actions against the country he had once so valiantly served.
- Sep 06 1861 – Civil War: Forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant bloodlessly capture Paducah, Kentucky, which gives the Union control of the mouth of the Tennessee River.
- Sep 06 1862 – Civil War: Stonewall Jackson Occupies Frederick, Maryland » Robert E. Lee had few military options after the month-long Second Manassas Campaign, which drove Union general John Pope’s Army of Virginia back upon the defenses of Washington, D.C. Even after successfully moving the war’s front lines from Richmond to Washington, Lee could not remain in northern Virginia because there was not food enough there to supply his army. Rather than retreat to central Virginia or seek the safety of the Shenandoah Valley, he instead marched his men north. Confederate troops under the command of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson crossed the Potomac River at White’s Ford, in Loudoun County, and entered Maryland on 4 SEP. It was one of the boldest decisions Lee ever made.
Describing his army as “not properly equipped for an invasion of an enemy’s territory,” Lee nevertheless counseled Confederate president Jefferson Davis—who worried about his capital’s security—that “we cannot afford to be idle” and that “as long as the army of the enemy are employed on this frontier I have no fears for the safety of Richmond.” Lee cited a number of reasons for the campaign. He hoped that Maryland, a slave state, would join the Confederacy. He also hoped to undermine Northern morale enough that in the autumn voters might elect a Congress intent on “peace at any price.” Recognizing that a move northward would force pursuing Union troops to evacuate Virginia, Lee hoped that the autumn harvest, especially in the Shenandoah Valley, would be available to sustain his army and the citizens of Virginia through the winter. These were reasons enough to overcome Lee’s reservation about his army’s lack of shoes, horses, and supplies.
Lee’s plan also exploited the fact that the Lincoln administration was in disarray, its armies demoralized and dispirited. After Pope’s loss at Second Manassas, Lincoln banished the general to Minnesota. The former general-in-chief George B. McClellan was discredited, too, following the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days’ Battles, when he was forced to retreat from the gates of Richmond. Lee entered Maryland with approximately 65,000 men, and by 7 SEP, he had concentrated most of them in Frederick, just forty miles to the northwest of Washington, D.C. On 8 SEP while in Frederick, Lee issued a “Proclamation to the People of Maryland,” declaring that his campaign would free Marylanders to join the Confederacy.
Lee’s private letters to Davis reveal that he did not truly expect Maryland to secede, but the proclamation nevertheless provided a convenient justification for his army’s occupation of Union soil. After issuing strict orders prohibiting his men from pillaging, Lee wrote to Davis urging the Confederate president to open negotiations with the Union government over recognition of Confederate independence. Assuming that his campaign would demoralize the Northern public and influence the autumn midterm elections, and with Confederate offensive operations occurring all the way west to the Mississippi River Valley, Lee thought the war might be won within a few weeks.
- Sep 06 1863 – Civil War: Confederates evacuate Battery Wagner and Morris Island in South Carolina. Although the Yankees captured Morris Island, Charleston was still beyond their grasp. The Confederates continued to defend the harbor and the city where the war began, until they finally evacuated the area in March 1865, just days before the end of the war.
- Sep 06 1901 – Commander-in-chief: President William McKinley is Shot » While shaking hands at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him and fired two shots into his chest. The president rose slightly on his toes before collapsing forward, saying “be careful how you tell my wife.”
Czolgosz moved over the president with the intent of firing a third shot, but was wrestled to the ground by McKinley’s bodyguards. McKinley, still conscious, told the guards not to hurt his assailant. Other presidential attendants rushed McKinley to the hospital where they found two bullet wounds: one bullet had superficially punctured his sternum and the other had dangerously entered his abdomen. He was rushed into surgery and seemed to be on the mend by September 12. Later that day, however, the president’s condition worsened rapidly and, on September 14, McKinley died from gangrene that had gone undetected in the internal wound. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was immediately sworn in as president.
Czolgosz, a Polish immigrant, grew up in Detroit and had worked as a child laborer in a steel mill. As a young adult, he gravitated toward socialist and anarchist ideology. He claimed to have killed McKinley because he was the head of what Czolgosz thought was a corrupt government. Czolgosz was convicted and executed in an electric chair on October 29, 1901. The unrepentant killer’s last words were “I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people—the working people.” His electrocution was allegedly filmed by Thomas Edison. On 16 SEP, after receiving a funeral befitting a president in Washington, D.C., McKinley’s coffin was transported by train to his hometown of Canton, Ohio, for burial.
- Sep 06 1914 – WWI: First Battle of the Marne (6-12 Sep) » The French 6th Army under the command of General Michel-Joseph Manoury attacks the right flank of the German 1st Army, beginning the decisive battle at the end of the first month of World War I.
After invading neutral Belgium and advancing into northeastern France by the end of August 1914, German forces were nearing Paris, spurred on by punishing victories that forced five French armies into retreat after the Battles of the Frontiers at Lorraine, Ardennes, Charleroi and Mons. In anticipation of the German attack, the anxious French government appointed the 65-year-old General Joseph-Simon Gallieni as the military governor of Paris. Gallieni, predicting that the Germans would reach Paris by 5 SEP, did not wish to sit idly back and wait for invasion. In the first days of September, he managed to convince the French commander in chief, Joseph Joffre, to spare him an army—Manoury’s 6th Army—from the front in order to aggressively defend the capital.
At the same time, General Alexander von Kluck, at the head of the German 1st Army, was disobeying orders from its own headquarters to double back and support General Karl von Bulow’s 2nd Army, thus protecting itself from possible attacks from the French on its right flank, from the direction of Paris. Not wanting to subordinate himself to Bulow’s command, Kluck ordered his forces to proceed in their pursuit of the retreating French 5th Army, under General Charles Lanrezac, across the Marne River, which they crossed on 3 SEP. When Gallieni learned of Kluck’s move that morning, he knew the French 6th Army—the new army of Paris—had been given its opportunity to attack the German flank. Without hesitation, he began to coordinate the attack, urging Joffre to support it by resuming the general French offensive earlier than army headquarters had planned.
On 4 SEP, Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the German general staff, learned that Kluck had disobeyed orders, and that his troops—exhausted and depleted of resources, having outrun their lines of supply over the course of their rapid advance—had crossed the Marne. Fearing the attack from Paris on the 1st Army’s exposed flank, Moltke ordered that the march of the 1st and 2nd Armies towards Paris be halted in order to face any threat from that direction. The order came too late, however, as Gallieni had already readied his army for an attack, and Joffre—with help from the British minister of war, Lord H. H. Kitchener—had obtained the promised support of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), commanded by Sir John French, for the French 5th and 6th Armies in their renewed offensive against German forces at the Marne.
On the morning of 6 SEP, the 150,000 soldiers of Manoury’s 6th Army attacked the right flank of the German 1st Army, whose turn to meet the attack opened a 30-mile-gap between Kluck’s forces and Bulow’s 2nd Army. Acting quickly, the French 5th Army—under a new leader, General Louis Franchet d’Esperey, appointed by Joffre to replace Lanrezac—and divisions of the BEF poured into the gap and simultaneously attacked the German 2nd Army. Fierce fighting continued over the next several days, with Manoury’s exhausted army managing to hold its ground only after being reinforced on 7 SEP by a corps of 6,000 rushed from Paris in taxi cabs. After Franchet d’Esperey’s 5th Army launched a successful surprise attack on the German 2nd Army, Moltke ordered a general German retreat on 9 SEP. Over the next few days, Allies slowly pushed the Germans back towards the Aisne River, where the 1st and 2nd Armies dug in, beginning the entrenchment of positions that would last well into 1918.
The Allied check of the German advance during the Battle of the Marne made the struggle one of the most decisive battles in history. Events at the Marne signaled the demise of Germany’s aggressive two-front war strategy, known as the Schlieffen Plan; they also marked the end of the general belief, held on both sides of the line, that the conflict that broke out in the summer of 1914 would be a short one. As the historian Barbara Tuchman wrote as a conclusion to her book The Guns of August (1962): “The Battle of the Marne was one of the decisive battles of the world not because it determined that Germany would eventually lose or the Allies ultimately win the war but because it determined that the war would go on.
There was no looking back, Joffre told the soldiers on the eve. Afterward there was no turning back. The nations were caught in a trap, a trap made during the first thirty days out of battles that failed to be decisive, a trap from which there was, and has been, no exit.”
- Sep 06 1915 – WWI: First Tank Produced » A prototype tank nicknamed Little Willie rolls off Athe assembly line in England. Little Willie was far from an overnight success. It weighed 14 tons, got stuck in trenches and crawled over rough terrain at only two miles per hour. However, improvements were made to the original prototype and tanks eventually transformed military battlefields.
The British developed the tank in response to the trench warfare of World War I. In 1914, a British army colonel named Ernest Swinton and William Hankey, secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defence, championed the idea of an armored vehicle with conveyor-belt-like tracks over its wheels that could break through enemy lines and traverse difficult territory. The men appealed to British navy minister Winston Churchill, who believed in the concept of a “land boat” and organized a Landships Committee to begin developing a prototype. To keep the project secret from enemies, production workers were reportedly told the vehicles they were building would be used to carry water on the battlefield (alternate theories suggest the shells of the new vehicles resembled water tanks). Either way, the new vehicles were shipped in crates labeled “tank” and the name stuck.
The first tank prototype, Little Willie, was unveiled in September 1915. Following its underwhelming performance–it was slow, became overheated and couldn’t cross trenches–a second prototype, known as “Big Willie,” was produced. By 1916, this armored vehicle was deemed ready for battle and made its debut at the First Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France, on 15 SEP of that year. Known as the Mark I, this first batch of tanks was hot, noisy and unwieldy and suffered mechanical malfunctions on the battlefield; nevertheless, people realized the tank’s potential. Further design improvements were made and at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, 400 Mark IV’s proved much more successful than the Mark I, capturing 8,000 enemy troops and 100 guns.
Tanks rapidly became an important military weapon. During World War II, they played a prominent role across numerous battlefields. More recently, tanks have been essential for desert combat during the conflicts in the Persian Gulf.
- Sep 06 1918 – WWI: The German Army begins a general retreat across the Aisne, with British troops in pursuit.
- Sep 06 1937 – PreWW2: The Soviet Union accuses Italy of torpedoing two Russian ships in the Mediterranean.
- Sep 06 1939 – WW2: South Africa Declares War on Nazi-Germany » Due to an almost total inadequacy in preparations for war, in addition to shortages in weapons and other equipment, South Africa was unable to properly defend herself, let alone make a contribution to the Allied war effort, on the eve of the Second World War. Since 1934, when an elaborate five year expansion plan for the Union Defense Forces (UDF) had been announced, various efforts had been made to improve the UDF’s state of preparedness. However, the consequences of the severe depression of 1929 to 1933 had cast a blight on the UDF. For example, forty-nine Active Citizen Force units were disbanded and all three of the South African Naval Service’s vessels were decommissioned, and the little money that was available was justly rather spent on nonmilitary development.
Furthermore, some of the politicians did not realize how important the defiance of the country was. Even Defense Headquarters had no properly conceived plan for the future defense of the country; the Union was located far away from the traditional European theatres of conflict and the presence of the Royal Navy at Simon’s Town made many South Africans overcautious when it came to defense matters. Many of the schemes put on paper were overambitious and what was done was not always very practical.
However, most other Allied countries were also caught unprepared for war, and the planning and reorganization that had been done in South Africa, albeit on a small scale, did enable General J C Smuts, the new prime minister, to put the country on a war footing very quickly.
- Sep 06 1941 – WW2: Holocaust » All Jews over six years of age in Nazi-occupied territories are ordered to wear the yellow Star of David on the left side of the coat whenever appearing in public. The regulation prescribed a star as large as the palm of the hand together with an inscription “Jew” in black. The order was dated 1 SEP and was effective 15 SEP. The German government’s policy of forcing Jews to wear identifying badges was but one of many psychological tactics aimed at isolating and dehumanizing the Jews of Europe, directly marking them as being different (i.e., inferior) to everyone else. It allowed for the easier facilitation of their separation from society and subsequent ghettoization, which ultimately led to the deportation and murder of 6 million Jews. Those who failed or refused to wear the badge risked severe punishment, including death
- Sep 06 1943 – WW2: The United States asks the Chinese Nationals to join with the Communists to present a common front to the Japanese.
- Sep 06 1944 – WW2: Tartu Offensive Operation » Soviet forces captured the city of Tartu manned by 69,000 German troops on their way to re-establishing their rule in Estonia. Casualties and losses: Ger Unk – USSR 71,806.
- Sep 06 1944 – WW2: Italian Resistance Fighters Persevere » British intelligence receives word that, despite setbacks, Italian guerillas fighting the German occupiers of their country are continuing to widen their activity. By war’s end, Italian guerillas controlled Venice, Milan, and Genoa, but at considerable cost. All told, the resistance lost some 50,000 fighters—but won its republic.
- Sep 06 1949 – Post WWII: Allied military authorities relinquish control of former Nazi Germany assets back to German control.
- Sep 06 1953 – Korea: The last American and Korean prisoners are exchanged in Operation Big Switch, the last official act of the Korean War.
- Sep 06 1969 – Vietnam War: Radio Hanoi announces that Ho Chi Minh is to be succeeded by a committee of leadership. Ho, the spiritual leader of North Vietnam and the Vietnamese communists in the South, had died on 2 SEP. His passing led many in America to hope that the time might be right to negotiate an end to the war, but his death had little long-term impact on the war as he had long been only a ceremonial figurehead. The new committee carried on with the war until the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January 1973 and, after U.S. forces departed, directed North Vietnamese forces as the fighting renewed in the South until they were eventually victorious in April 1975.
- Sep 06 1972 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese President Thieu abolishes popular elections in the country’s 10,775 hamlets and supersedes a 1968 law establishing the election of hamlet and village officers.
- Sep 06 1976 – Cold War: Soviet air force pilot Lt. Viktor Belenko lands a MiG-25 jet fighter on the island of Hokkaido in Japan and requests political asylum in the United States.
- Sep 06 1991 – Cold War: USSR officially recognizes independence for the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
- Sep 07 1776 – American Revolution: World’s First Submarine Attack » The American submersible craft Turtle attempts to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship Eagle in New York Harbor. It was the first use of a submarine in warfare.
Submarines were first built by Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebel in the early 17th century, but it was not until 150 years later that they were first used in naval combat. David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator, the submarine was entirely hand-powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced.
Donated to the Patriot cause after the outbreak of war with Britain in 1775, Ezra Lee piloted the craft unnoticed out to the 64-gun HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on September 7, 1776. As Lee worked to anchor a time bomb to the hull, he could see British seamen on the deck above, but they failed to notice the strange craft below the surface. Lee had almost secured the bomb when his boring tools failed to penetrate a layer of iron sheathing. He retreated, and the bomb exploded nearby, causing no harm to either the Eagle or the Turtle.
During the next week, the Turtle made several more attempts to sink British ships on the Hudson River, but each time it failed, owing to the operator’s lack of skill. Only Bushnell was really able to competently execute the submarine’s complicated functions, but because of his physical frailty he was unable to pilot the Turtle in any of its combat missions. During the Battle of Fort Lee, the Turtle was lost when the American sloop transporting it was sunk by the British.
Despite the failures of the Turtle, General George Washington gave Bushnell a commission as an Army engineer, and the drifting mines he constructed destroyed the British frigate Cereberus and wreaked havoc against other British ships. After the war, he became commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.
- Sep 07 1813 – War of 1812: The United States Gets its Nickname, Uncle Sam » The name is linked to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812.Wilson (1766-1854) stamped the barrels with “U.S.” for United States, but soldiers began referring to the grub as “Uncle Sam’s.” The local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually gained widespread acceptance as the nickname for the U.S. federal government.
In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam. Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today. The German-born Nast was also credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as well as coming up with the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party and the elephant as a symbol for the Republicans. Nast also famously lampooned the corruption of New York City’s Tammany Hall in his editorial cartoons and was, in part, responsible for the downfall of Tammany leader William Tweed.
Perhaps the most famous image of Uncle Sam was created by artist James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). In Flagg’s version, Uncle Sam wears a tall top hat and blue jacket and is pointing straight ahead at the viewer. During World War I, this portrait of Sam with the words “I Want You For The U.S. Army” was used as a recruiting poster. The image, which became immensely popular, was first used on the cover of Leslie’s Weekly in July 1916 with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?” The poster was widely distributed and has subsequently been re-used numerous times with different captions.
In September 1961, the U.S. Congress recognized Samuel Wilson as “the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam.” Wilson died at age 88 in 1854, and was buried next to his wife Betsey Mann in the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, New York, the town that calls itself “The Home of Uncle Sam.”
- Sep 07 1863 – Civil War: Confederates evacuate Battery Wagner and Morris Island in South Carolina.
- Sep 07 1864 – Civil War: Atlanta is Evacuated » In preparation for his march to the sea, Union General William T. Sherman orders residents of Atlanta, Georgia, to evacuate the city. Even though he had just successfully captured it with minimal losses, he was worried about his supply lines, which stretched all the way to Louisville, Kentucky. With Confederate cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest on the loose, Sherman expected to have a difficult time maintaining an open line of communication and reasoned that he could not stay in Atlanta for long. The number of troops committed to guarding the railroad and telegraph lines was almost as many as he had with him in Atlanta.
For Sherman, the defeated residents of Atlanta could only hinder him in his preparations since they represented mouths to feed in addition to his own army. Furthermore, he did not want to bear responsibility for women and children in the midst of his army. Eviction of the residents was Sherman’s most logical solution. He wrote, “I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who prefer it to go South, and the rest North.”
The mayor of Atlanta, James Calhoun, protested, but Sherman curtly replied, “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it.” The general provided transportation south of the city, where the refugees would be let loose near the defeated army of Confederate General John Bell Hood. Between September 11 and 16 some 446 families, about 1,600 people, left their homes and possessions. One young Atlanta woman, Mary Gay, lamented bitterly that her fellow citizens “were dumped out upon the cold ground without shelter and without any of the comforts of home.” They had only the “cold charity of the world.”
Sherman’s order surely didn’t win him any fans among the Southerners, but he was only starting to build his infamous reputation with the Confederates. In November, he embarked on his march to the sea, during which his army destroyed nearly everything that lay in its path.
- Sep 07 1864 – Civil War: Union General Phil Sheridan’s troops skirmish with the Confederates under Jubal Early outside Winchester, Virginia.
- Sep 07 1914 – Westward Expansion: Minnesotans Nearly Wipeout the James-Younger Gang » Attempting a bold daytime robbery of the Northfield Minnesota bank, the James-Younger gang suddenly finds itself surrounded by angry townspeople and is nearly wiped out on this day in 1876.
The bandits began with a diversion: five of the men galloped through the center of town, hollering and shooting their pistols in the air. As the townspeople ran for cover, three other men wearing wide-brimmed hats and long dusters took advantage of the distraction to walk unnoticed into the First National Bank. Brandishing pistols, one of the men ordered the bank cashier to open the bank safe. Though the cashier recognized the famous face of the dangerous outlaw, Jesse James, he stalled, claiming that the safe had a time lock and could not be opened. As Jesse James considered his next move, a brave–or foolish–bank teller made a break for the back door. One of the robbers fired twice, hitting the teller in the shoulder, but the man managed to stumble to safety and sound the alarm.
The citizens of Northfield ran to surround the bank and mercilessly shot down the robbers as they tried to escape. A 19-year-old medical student killed one gang member, Clell Miller, while the owner of the Northfield hardware store mortally wounded Bill Chadwell, peppering his body with bullets from a rapid-firing Remington repeater rifle. Jesse’s brother, Frank, was hit in the leg, while their criminal partners–Jim, Cole, and Bob Younger–were also badly wounded.
Jesse was the last one out of the bank. After pausing briefly to shoot the uncooperative cashier in the head, Jesse leapt onto his horse and joined the rest of the survivors as they desperately fled town. For the next two weeks a posse pursued them relentlessly, eventually killing or capturing four more of the gang members. Luckily for Frank and Jesse James, the two brothers had decided to go their own way, escaping to Dakota Territory. After things had cooled down, they went to Nashville, Tennessee, where they started rebuilding their gang and planning new robberies.
- Sep 07 1914 – WWI: Sir John French, commander in chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), begins his first official dispatch from the Western Front during World War I, summarizing the events of the first several weeks of British operations.
- Sep 07 1940 – WW2: The Blitz (7 Sep – 11 May 1941) » On this day 300 German bombers raid London, in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. This bombing “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) would continue until May 1941.
After the successful occupation of France, it was only a matter of time before the Germans turned their sights across the Channel to England. Hitler wanted a submissive, neutralized Britain so that he could concentrate on his plans for the East, namely the land invasion of the Soviet Union, without interference. Since June, English vessels in the Channel had been attacked and aerial battles had been fought over Britain, as Germany attempted to wear down the Royal Air Force in anticipation of a land invasion. But with Germany failing to cripple Britain’s air power, especially in the Battle of Britain, Hitler changed strategies. A land invasion was now ruled out as unrealistic; instead Hitler chose sheer terror as his weapon of choice.
British intelligence had had an inkling of the coming bombardment. Evidence of the large-scale movement of German barges in the Channel and the interrogation of German spies had led them to the correct conclusion-unfortunately, it was just as the London docks were suffering the onslaught of Day One of the Blitz. By the end of the day, German planes had dropped 337 tons of bombs on London. Even though civilian populations were not the primary target that day, the poorest of London slum areas-the East End–felt the fallout literally, from direct hits of errant bombs as well as the fires that broke out and spread throughout the vicinity. Four hundred and forty-eight civilians were killed that afternoon and evening.
A little past 8 p.m., British military units were alerted with the code name “Cromwell,” meaning the German invasion had begun. A state of emergency broke out in England; even home defense units were put to the ready. One of Hitler’s key strategic blunders of the war was to consistently underestimate the will and courage of the British people. They would not run or be cowed into submission. They would fight. Casualties and losses: England 86 to 139,000 civilians – Ger 3,363 aircrew, 2,265 planes.
- Sep 07 1942 – WW2: Australian and American forces inflict a significant defeat upon the Japanese at the Battle of Milne Bay.
- Sep 07 1942 – WW2: The Red Army pushes back the German line northwest of Stalingrad.
- Sep 07 1950 – Cold War: Slightly more than two months after the United Nations approved a U.S. resolution calling for the use of force to repel the communist North Korean invasion of South Korea, the Security Council rejects a Soviet resolution that would condemn the American bombing of North Korea. The Security Council action was another victory for the United States in securing U.N. support for the war in Korea.
- Sep 07 1964 – Vietnam War: President Johnson assembles his top aides at the White House to ponder the future course of action in Vietnam.
- Sep 07 1965 – Vietnam War: Marines launch Operation Piranha (7-10 Sep) » In a follow up to August’s Operation Starlight, United States Marines and South Vietnamese forces initiate the operation on the Batangan Peninsula. During the course of the operation, the Allied forces stormed a stronghold of the Viet Cong 1st Regiment, claiming 200 enemy dead after intense fighting.
- Sep 07 1976 – Cold War: Soviet Air Force pilot Lt. Viktor Belenko lands a MiG–25 jet fighter at Hakodate on the island of Hokkaid in Japan and requests political asylum in the United States.
Lt. Viktor Belenko & MIG-25 “Foxbait”
- Sep 08 1781 – American Revolution: Bloody Battle Begins at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina » After receiving reinforcements on this day in 1781, Major General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army resumes offensive action against Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart and the British soldiers at Eutaw Springs, located on the banks of the Santee River in South Carolina. The Patriots approached in the early morning, forcing the British soldiers to abandon their uneaten breakfasts in order to fight.
Greene commanded approximately 2,200 men compared to the less than 2,000 British soldiers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart. Unbeknownst to most of the Patriots, however, British Major John Majoribanks had managed to secure his unit in a stone house, impervious to Patriot Lieutenant Colonel William Washington’s cavalry attack. When Patriot soldiers took over the British camp and began to devour the abandoned breakfast, Majoribanks set his men upon them. A four-hour inconclusive bloodbath in the burning sun ensued, ending in both sides retreating from the battlefield. More than 500 Americans were killed or wounded in the action. British losses were even greater and the greatest sustained by any army in a single battle during the entire Revolutionary War. By the end of the battle, 700 of their soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. Because of the high number of casualties the British sustained, Stewart subsequently ordered his men to withdraw to Charleston, South Carolina, to regroup.
The Battle of Eutaw Springs was one of the hardest fought and bloodiest battles of the Revolution and proved to be the last major engagement of the war to take place in the South. The Patriots’ partial victory cemented their near-complete control of the southern section of the country.
- Sep 08 1863 – Civil War: Rebels Thwart Yankees at the Second Battle of Sabine Pass » A small Confederate force thwarts a Federal invasion of Texas at the mouth of the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border.
In November 1862, Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder assumed command of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Union controlled most of the harbors along the Texas coast, but Magruder quickly changed that with two major assaults on Union defenses. He captured Galveston, Texas, on January 1, 1863, and then drove off a Yankee force at Sabine Pass later that month. After Magruder’s forces drove the Union ships away, the Rebels were left with two harbors from which to operate.
In the summer of 1863, the Union commander in the region, General Nathaniel Banks, launched an expedition to retake Sabine Pass. He placed General William B. Franklin in charge of an amphibious force that included four gunboats, 18 transports, and nearly 6,000 troops. They set sail from New Orleans, Louisiana, and arrived off Sabine Pass on September 7. The next day, Franklin called for an invasion of the Confederate band of 47 Irish immigrants commanded by Lieutenant Richard W. “Dick” Dowling, which was holed up inside of Fort Griffin, a stronghold armed with six old smoothbore cannons.
Dowling’s men had one major advantage: Their guns were fixed on the narrow channel of Sabine Pass, through which the Yankees would have to sail in order to approach Fort Griffin. The battle commenced in the afternoon, and the Confederate cannons quickly cut into the Union flotilla. The first two ships to go through the pass were badly damaged and ran aground. The troop transports ran into trouble, and one Union ship turned around without firing a shot. Franklin called off the attack and returned to New Orleans.
While the Confederates did not lose a single man, 28 Yankees were killed, 75 were wounded, and 315 were captured. The loss was humiliating for the Union. Franklin was ridiculed, and Dowling’s Rebels became heroes. Banks nixed plans for an invasion of east Texas and focused his attention on the Rio Grande Valley.
- Sep 08 1915– WWI: German Airship Hits Central London » A German Zeppelin commanded by Heinrich Mathy, one of the great airship commanders of World War I, hits Aldersgate in central London, killing 22 people and causing £500,000 worth of damage.
The Zeppelin, a motor-driven rigid airship, was developed by German inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin in 1900. Although a French inventor had built a power-driven airship several decades before, the von Zeppelin-designed rigid dirigible, with its steel framework, was by far the largest airship ever constructed. However, in the case of the zeppelin, size was exchanged for safety, as the heavy steel-framed airships were vulnerable to explosion because they had to be lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas instead of non-flammable helium gas.
The Germans enjoyed great success with the Zeppelin over the course of 1915 and 1916, terrorizing the skies over the British Isles. The first Zeppelin attack on London came on May 31, 1915; it killed 28 people and wounded 60 more. By May 1916, the Germans had killed a total of 550 Britons with aerial bombing.
One of the best-known Zeppelin pilots was Heinrich Mathy, born in 1883 in Mannheim, Germany. Flying his famed airship L13 on September 8, 1915, Mathy dropped his bombs on the Aldersgate area of central London, causing great damage by fire and killing 22 people.
The following summer, Mathy piloted a new Zeppelin, the L31 in more attacks on London on the night of August 24-25, 1916. His ship was damaged upon landing; while he was waiting for repairs to be made, Mathy received word that the British had managed for the first time to shoot down a Zeppelin, using incendiary bullets. Shortly after that, Mathy wrote pessimistically: “It is only a question of time before we join the rest. Everyone admits that they feel it. Our nerves are ruined by mistreatment. If anyone should say that he was not haunted by visions of burning airships, then he would be a braggart.” True to his prediction, Mathy’s L31 was shot down during a raid on London on the night of October 1-2, 1916. He is buried in Staffordshire, in a cemetery constructed for the burial of Germans killed on British soil during both World Wars.
- Sep 08 1923 – U.S. Navy: Honda Point Disaster » Nine US Navy destroyers run aground off the California coast. Seven are lost with twenty–three sailors killed.
- Sep 08 1940 – WW2: Buckingham Palace Bombed » The Palace receives its first hit when a 50kg delayed-action high explosive bomb landed harmlessly in the grounds. On 9 SEP a second delayed-action bomb fell close to a swimming pool at the north western part of the Palace. The bomb was roped off and later detonated, leaving a large crater and destroying much of the pool. The North Wing of the Palace was damaged and many Palace windows were blown out. During the Blitz, Buckingham Palace and its 42-acre grounds were struck on sixteen separate occasions (of which nine were direct hits). The Palace forecourt, inner quadrangle and South and North Wings were all marred by high explosive and delayed-action bombs. Despite this, the targeting of Buckingham Palace resulted in only partial success: physical damage was limited and there were no mass casualties.
- Sep 08 1941 – WW2: Siege of Leningrad (8-Sep – 27 Jan 1944) » During World War II, German forces begin their siege of Leningrad, a major industrial center and the USSR’s second-largest city. The German armies were later joined by Finnish forces that advanced against Leningrad down the Karelian Isthmus. The siege of Leningrad, also known as the 900-Day Siege though it lasted a grueling 872 days, resulted in the deaths of some one million of the city’s civilians and Red Army defenders.
Leningrad, formerly St. Petersburg, capital of the Russian Empire, was one of the initial targets of the German invasion of June 1941. As German armies raced across the western Soviet Union, three-quarters of Leningrad’s industrial plants and hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants were evacuated to the east. More than two million residents remained, however, and the evacuated were replaced by refugees who fled to Leningrad ahead of the German advance. All able-bodied persons in the city–men, women, and children–were enlisted to build antitank fortifications along Leningrad’s edge. By the end of July, German forces had cut the Moscow-Leningrad railway and were penetrating the outer belt of the fortifications around Leningrad. On 8 SEP German forces besieged the city, but they were held at bay by Leningrad’s fortifications and its 200,000 Red Army defenders. That day, a German air bombardment set fire to warehouses containing a large part of Leningrad’s scant food supply.
Aiming to tighten the noose around Leningrad, the Germans launched an offensive to the east in October and cut off the last highways and rail lines south of the city. Meanwhile, Finnish forces advanced down the Karelian Isthmus (which had been seized from Finland by the Soviets during the Russo-Finnish War of 1939 to 1940) and besieged Leningrad from the north. By early November, the city was almost completely encircled, and only across Lake Ladoga was a supply lifeline possible.
German artillery and air bombardments came several times a day during the first months of the siege. The daily ration for civilians was reduced to 125 grams of bread, no more than a thick slice. Starvation set in by December, followed by the coldest winter in decades, with temperatures falling to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. People worked through the winter in makeshift armament factories without roofs, building the weapons that kept the Germans just short of victory.
Residents burned books and furniture to stay warm and searched for food to supplement their scarce rations. Animals from the city zoo were consumed early in the siege, followed before long by household pets. Wallpaper paste made from potatoes was scraped off the wall, and leather was boiled to produce an edible jelly. Grass and weeds were cooked, and scientists worked to extract vitamins from pine needles and tobacco dust. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, resorted to cannibalizing the dead, and in a few cases people were murdered for their flesh. The Leningrad police struggled to keep order and formed a special division to combat cannibalism.
Across frozen Lake Ladoga, trucks made it to Leningrad with supplies, but not enough. Thousands of residents, mostly children and the elderly, were evacuated across the lake, but many more remained in the city and succumbed to starvation, the bitter cold, and the relentless German air attacks. In 1942 alone, the siege claimed some 600,000 lives. In the summer, barges and other ships braved German air attack to cross Lake Ladoga to Leningrad with supplies.
In January 1943, Red Army soldiers broke through the German line, rupturing the blockade and creating a more efficient supply route along the shores of Lake Ladoga. For the rest of the winter and then during the next, the “road of life” across the frozen Lake Ladoga kept Leningrad alive. Eventually, an oil pipeline and electric cables were laid on the lake bed. In the summer of 1943, vegetables planted on any open ground in the city supplemented rations.
In early 1944, Soviet forces approached Leningrad, forcing German forces to retreat southward from the city on 27 JAN. The siege was over. A giant Soviet offensive to sweep the USSR clean of its invaders began in May. The 872-day siege of Leningrad cost an estimated one million Soviet lives, perhaps hundreds of thousands more. The Soviet government awarded the Order of Lenin to the people of Leningrad in 1945, paying tribute to their endurance during the grueling siege. The city did not regain its prewar population of three million until the 1960s.
- Sep 08 1943 – WW2: Italian Surrender is Announced » Gen. Dwight Eisenhower publicly announces the surrender of Italy to the Allies. Germany reacted with Operation Axis, the Allies with Operation Avalanche.
With Mussolini deposed from power and the earlier collapse of the fascist government in July, Gen. Pietro Badoglio, the man who had assumed power in Mussolini’s stead by request of King Victor Emanuel, began negotiating with Gen. Eisenhower for weeks. Weeks later, Badoglio finally approved a conditional surrender, allowing the Allies to land in southern Italy and begin beating the Germans back up the peninsula. Operation Avalanche, the Allied invasion of Italy, was given the go-ahead, and the next day would see Allied troops land in Salerno.
The Germans too snapped into action. Ever since Mussolini had begun to falter, Hitler had been making plans to invade Italy to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold that would situate them within easy reach of the German-occupied Balkans. On September 8, Hitler launched Operation Axis, the occupation of Italy. As German troops entered Rome, General Badoglio and the royal family fled Rome for southeastern Italy to set up a new antifascist government. Italian troops began surrendering to their former German allies; where they resisted, as had happened earlier in Greece, they were slaughtered (1,646 Italian soldiers were murdered by Germans on the Greek island of Cephalonia, and the 5,000 that finally surrendered were ultimately shot).
One of the goals of Operation Axis was to keep Italian navy vessels out of the hands of the Allies. When the Italian battleship Roma headed for an Allied-controlled port in North Africa, it was sunk by German bombers. In fact, the Roma had the dubious honor of becoming the first ship ever sunk by a radio-controlled guided missile. More than 1,500 crewmen drowned. The Germans also scrambled to move Allied POWs to labor camps in Germany in order to prevent their escape. In fact, many POWS did manage to escape before the German invasion, and several hundred volunteered to stay in Italy to fight alongside the Italian guerillas in the north.
The Italians may have surrendered, but their war was far from over.
- Sep 08 1943 – WW2: The O.B.S. (German General Headquarters for the Mediterranean zone) in Frascati is bombed by USAAF.
- Sep 08 1945 – Cold War: Korea Partition » U.S. troops land in Korea to begin their postwar occupation of the southern part of that nation, almost exactly one month after Soviet troops had entered northern Korea to begin their own occupation. Although the U.S. and Soviet occupations were supposed to be temporary, the division of Korea quickly became permanent.
Korea had been a Japanese possession since the early 20th century. During World War II, the allies–the United States, Soviet Union, China, and Great Britain–made a somewhat hazy agreement that Korea should become an independent country following the war. As the war progressed, U.S. officials began to press the Soviets to enter the war against Japan. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin pledged that his nation would declare war on Japan exactly three months after Nazi Germany was defeated. A few months later, at the Potsdam Conference in July and August 1945, it was agreed that Soviet troops would occupy the northern portion of Korea, while American forces would take a similar action in southern Korea in order to secure the area and liberate it from Japanese control. The occupations would be temporary, and Korea would eventually decide its own political future, though no date was set for the end of the U.S. and Soviet occupations. On August 8, the Soviets declared war on Japan. On August 9, Soviet forces invaded northern Korea. A few days later, Japan surrendered. Keeping to their part of the bargain, U.S. forces entered southern Korea on September 8, 1945.
Over the next few years, the situation in Korea steadily worsened. A civil war between communist and nationalist forces in southern Korea resulted in thousands of people killed and wounded. The Soviets steadfastly refused to consider any plans for the reunification of Korea. The United States reacted by setting up a government in South Korea, headed by Syngman Rhee. The Soviets established a communist regime in North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Il-Sung. In 1948, the United States again offered to hold national elections, but the Soviets refused the offer. Elections were held in South Korea, and Rhee’s government received a popular mandate. The Soviets refused to recognize Rhee’s government, though, and insisted that Kim Il-Sung was the true leader of all Korea.
Having secured the establishment of a communist government in North Korea, Soviet troops withdrew in 1948; and U.S. troops in South Korea followed suit in 1949. In 1950, the North Koreans attempted to reunite the nation by force and launched a massive military assault on South Korea. The United States quickly came to the aid of South Korea, beginning a three-year involvement in the bloody and frustrating Korean War. Korea remains a divided nation today, and the North Korean regime is one of the few remaining communist governments left in the world.
- Sep 08 1951 – Cold War: Treaty of San Francisco » In San Francisco, California, 48 nations sign a peace treaty with Japan in formal recognition of the end of the Pacific War.
- Sep 08 1954 – Vietnam War: SEATO Established » Having been directed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to put together an alliance to contain any communist aggression in the free territories of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, or Southeast Asia in general, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles forges an agreement establishing a military alliance that becomes the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
Signatories, including France, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, and the United States, pledged themselves to “act to meet the common danger” in the event of aggression against any signatory state. A separate protocol to SEATO designated Laos, Cambodia, and “the free territory under the jurisdiction of the State of Vietnam [South Vietnam]” as also being areas subject to the provisions of the treaty. The language of the treaty did not go as far as the absolute mutual defense commitments and force structure of the NATO alliance, instead providing only for consultations in case of aggression against a signatory or protocol state before any combined actions were initiated. This lack of an agreement that would have compelled a combined military response to aggression significantly weakened SEATO as a military alliance. It was, however, used as legal basis for U.S. involvement in South Vietnam. SEATO expired on June 30, 1977.
- Sep 08 1975 – U.S. Air Force: USAF Tech Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, appears in his Air Force uniform on the cover of Time magazine with the headline “I Am a Homosexual”. He is later given a general discharge.
- Sep 09 1776 – American Revolution: Nation Gets a New Name » The Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use. In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”
A resolution by Richard Henry Lee, which had been presented to Congress on 7 JUN and approved on July 2, 1776, issued the resolve, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States….” As a result, John Adams thought 2 JUL would be celebrated as “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted. That document also states, “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” However, Lee began with the line, while Jefferson saved it for the middle of his closing paragraph.
By September, the Declaration of Independence had been drafted, signed, printed and sent to Great Britain. What Congress had declared to be true on paper in July was clearly the case in practice, as Patriot blood was spilled against the British on the battlefields of Boston, Montreal, Quebec and New York. Congress had created a country from a cluster of colonies and the nation’s new name reflected that reality.
- Sep 09 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Cumberland Gap, TN (7-9 Sep) » Union Major General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Department and Army of the Ohio, left Cincinnati, Ohio in mid-August 1863 for his campaign for Knoxville. The direct route ran through the Confederate-held Cumberland Gap. Burnside had been delayed in earlier attempts to move out against Knoxville and thus chose not to spend the time to force a passage of the gap. Instead he detached one brigade under Colonel John F. DeCourcy to pose a threat to Confederate Brigadier General John W. Frazer’s 2,300 man garrison, while the rest of the army bypassed to the south over 40 miles in rugged mountainous terrain. DeCourcy had previously led a brigade in the 1862 operations against the Cumberland Gap under George W. Morgan.
Despite this, Burnside made a rapid advance on Knoxville. Many of the Confederates in eastern Tennessee had been withdrawn for the upcoming Battle of Chickamauga, leaving only two brigades under General Sam Jones (including Frazer’s). Having successfully occupied Knoxville on 2 SEP, Burnside could now return his attention to the Cumberland Gap.
Frazer and his 2,300-man garrison had little combat experience, yet they had the benefit of a strong natural defense. Frazer’s men supplemented this by digging their own trenches. General Simon B. Buckner had given Frazer orders to hold the gap at all cost, yet when Buckner and all his troops were redeployed, no contingency had been formulated for retreat and therefore Frazer continued following his orders from Buckner to hold the gap. DeCourcy’s brigade threatened the Confederates from the north, but his brigade alone was not enough to force Frazer out of the gap. Burnside dispatched a second brigade under Brigadier General James M. Shackelford. Shackelford approached from the south and, on 7 SEP, asked for Frazer’s surrender. There were still not enough Union troops to convince Frazer to surrender.
An ineffectual exchange of artillery followed but that evening Union soldiers captured Gap Springs, the Confederate water supply. On 8 SEP Burnside personally left Knoxville with a brigade under Colonel Samuel A. Gilbert and marched 60 miles in just over a day. Meanwhile, both DeCourcy and Shackelford sent messages demanding surrender. Attempting to buy time, Frazer met with the two Union commanders separately, but rejected surrender demands from both. Around 10:00 a.m. on 9 SEP, Burnside sent a message to Frazer stating he now had a large enough force to carry the gap by storm. The large Union force, little combat experience and low morale (after news of Vicksburg and Gettysburg) all factored into Frazer’s decision to surrender. Around 3:00 p.m. Frazer agreed to an unconditional surrender of all the Confederates guarding the Cumberland Gap. Between 100-300 men managed to escape through DeCourcy’s lines after the surrender had taken place, but the rest of the soldiers, arms, 14 pieces of artillery and the strategic location were now in Union control. This was the last major operation against the Cumberland Gap and it would remain in Union hands for the rest of the war.
- Sep 09 1863 – Civil War: Yankees Capture Chattanooga Tennessee » Union General William Rosecrans completes a brilliant campaign against the army of Confederate General Braxton Bragg when his forces capture Chattanooga, Tennessee. The capture followed a campaign in which there was little fighting but much maneuvering. Approaching Chattanooga from the west on 8 SEP, Union forces began crossing Lookout Mountain above the city. Bragg was outmaneuvered and was forced to leave Chattanooga with only minor skirmishing.
- Sep 09 1914 – WWI: Battle of Marne– German advance stalls, Paris is saved.
- Sep 09 1942 – WW2: Japanese Bomb U.S. Mainland » A Japanese floatplane flown by Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita drops an incendiary bomb on Mount Emily, Oregon. Launching from the Japanese sub I-25, Nobuo Fujita piloted his light aircraft over the state and firebombed Mount Emily, alighting a state forest–and ensuring his place in the history books as the only man to ever bomb the continental United States. It was the first bombing on continental U.S. soil. The president immediately called for a news blackout for the sake of morale. No long-term damage was done, and Fujita eventually went home to train navy pilots for the rest of the war.
Nobuo Fujita standing by his Yokosuka E14Y “Glen” seaplane
- Sep 09 1943 – WW2: USS Grayling (SS–209) lost. Most likely rammed and sunk by Japanese transport Hokuan Maru, South China Sea west of Luzon. 76 killed.
- Sep 09 1943 – WW2: Battleship Roma Sunk w/PGM » Roma was a beautiful, capable Italian warship, and perhaps in other circumstances her role in history might have been a gallant or even decisive one. But instead, it was limited to a single, brief appearance as a sort of sacrificial lamb, slaughtered at the altar of a horrible new kind of weapon. What sent Roma to the bottom was the first of a wholly new class of weapon, known today as precision guided munitions (PGM). This PGM in particular was a massive 3,450-pound, armor-piercing, radio-controlled, glide bomb, which the Luftwaffe called Fritz-X. Within 23 minutes of being hit the Roma capsized, broke in two and sank. She was gone, with 1,253 of her crew of 1,849 officers and men dead.
The new weapons’ reign of terror turned out to be short lived. As devastatingly effective as the Fritz-X and its predecessor Hs 293 (a more complex, but somewhat less effective PGM) might have been, they had two weaknesses.
- The first, the Allies figured out almost immediately: Once the Fritz-X had been dropped and started falling toward its target, the bomber needed to fly straight, level, and slow in order to guide it in. As long as the skies were uncontested, then there wasn’t a problem, but if there were any Allied fighters around, then the bomber could be easily shot down during this phase.
- At the same time, the British and Americans began developing electronic countermeasures to jam the radio link between the bomber and the bomb. The first Allied jammer proved ineffective, since it jammed the wrong frequencies. But subsequent improvements began to close the gap, which markedly reduced the effectiveness of the Fritz-X and Hs 293.
Then an intact Hs 293 was discovered at a captured airfield up the beach from Anzio. Shortly after that, one of the radio control transmitters was recovered from a German bomber that had crashed on Corsica. The jammer developed as a result proved highly effective. By that point the Luftwaffe was already developing new variants of the two weapons that would be resistant to jamming. While none proved effective enough to allow the Germans to resume their guided bomb offensive, it did mark the beginning of a battle of measures and countermeasures, which today, 70-odd years later, shows no sign of abating.
- Sep 09 1943 – WW2: Allies Land at Salerno and Taranto » Operation Avalanche, the Allied land invasion of Salerno, and Operation Slapstick, the British airborne invasion of Taranto, both in southern Italy, are launched.
- Sep 09 1944 – WW2: Bulgaria Communist Coup » With the entry of the Red Army in Romania in 1944, the Kingdom of Bulgaria changed its alliance and declared neutrality. On 5 SEP, the Soviet Union declared war on the kingdom and three days later the Red Army entered north-eastern Bulgaria, prompting the government to declare support in order to minimize military conflict. On 9 SEP, communist partisans launched a coup d’état which de facto ended the rule of the Bulgarian monarchy and its administration, after which a new government assumed power led by the Fatherland Front (FF), which itself was led by the Bulgarian Communist Party.
As the war came to a halt, the government expanded its campaign of political revolution to attack economic elites in banking and private business. This strengthened when it became apparent that the United States and United Kingdom had little interest in Bulgaria. In November 1945, Communist Party leader Georgi Dimitrov returned to Bulgaria after 22 years in exile. He made a truculent speech that rejected cooperation with opposition groups. Elections held a few weeks later resulted in a large majority for the Fatherland Front. On September 15, 1946, the monarchy was abolished by plebiscite, which resulted in 95.6 percent voting in favor of a republic, and young Tsar Simeon II was sent into exile. The Communists openly took power, and Bulgaria was declared a People’s Republic.
Finally on 15 November 1990, the 7th Grand National Assembly voted to change the country’s name to the Republic of Bulgaria and removed the Communist state emblem from the national flag. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed in Bulgaria beginning in 1944 as part of agricultural collectivisation and political repression, although documentation is insufficient for a definitive judgement. According to one source, some 31,000 people were reported killed under the regime between 1944 and 1989. Figures for fatalities in forced labor camps also remain elusive. A 2009 poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that one-in-nine Bulgarians believe ordinary people are better off as a result of the transition to capitalism. Sixteen percent say the multi-party republic is run for the benefit of all people
- Sep 09 1967 –Vietnam War: Hackney Receives Medal of Honor » Sergeant Duane D. Hackney is presented with the Air Force Cross for bravery in rescuing an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. He was the first living Air Force enlisted man to receive the award, the nation’s second highest award for bravery in action.
- Sep 09 1969–Vietnam War: Ho Chi Minh Buried in Hanoi » Funeral services, attended by 250,000 mourners, are held for Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. Among those in attendance were Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin, Chinese Vice-Premier Li Hsien-nien and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Ho had established the Indochinese Communist Party in 1929. In September 1945, as the defeated Japanese prepared to leave Vietnam, Ho declared Vietnamese independence from French colonial rule and announced the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The French, attempting to reimpose colonial rule, soon clashed with Ho and his Viet Minh forces.
After a bloody nine-year war, the French were finally driven from the country after they suffered a humiliating defeat by the Viet Minh at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. The Geneva Accords subsequently divided Vietnam into two countries. Ho then led a battle to reunite Vietnam under communist rule. When the United States intervened militarily, Ho directed his forces in a protracted war against the Americans and the Saigon regime. He served as the spiritual leader of the North Vietnamese people, exhorting them to continue the struggle until the Americans were defeated and Vietnam was reunited as one nation. His death resulted in a tremendous emotional outpouring and his successors used the life and teachings of “Uncle Ho” to motivate the people to continue the fight. Today, he is enshrined in central Hanoi in a public mausoleum that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
- Sep 09 1972 –Vietnam War: DeBellevue Becomes Leading American Ace » U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue (Weapons Systems Officer) flying with his pilot, Capt. John A. Madden, in a McDonnell Douglas F-4D, shoots down two MiG-19s near Hanoi. These were Captain DeBellevue’s fifth and sixth victories, which made him the leading American ace (an unofficial designation awarded for having downed at least five enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat) of the war. All of his victories came in a four-month period. Captain Madden would record a third MiG kill two months later.
- Sep 09 1976 – Cold War: Mao Zedong Dies » The man who led the Chinese people through a long revolution and then ruled the nation’s communist government from its establishment in 1949, dies. Along with V.I. Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Mao was one of the most significant communist figures of the Cold War.
Mao was born in China in 1893. During the 1910s, he joined the nationalist movement against the decadent and ineffective royal government of China and the foreigners who used it to exploit China. By the 1920s, however, Mao began to lose faith in the leaders of the nationalist movement. He came to believe that only a revolutionary change of Chinese society could bring freedom from Western domination and subjugation. In 1921, he became one of the founding members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Mao’s early years as a communist were not easy. He was constantly in danger of arrest and execution by Chinese government forces. More importantly, he often split with his communist colleagues, many of whom favored slavishly copying the Bolshevik Revolution that brought communism to power in Russia. Mao insisted that revolution in China would come from the country peasants, not the urban workers. In 1935, Mao took control of the CCP. On the verge of defeat by Chinese Nationalist forces, the CCP came under scathing attack by Mao for its lack of revolutionary zeal and poor military strategy. Desperate, a majority of the CCP members relinquished control to Mao. Throughout the 1930s and into World War II, Mao’s forces continued their attacks on the Chinese government. They were ultimately victorious in 1949, and the communist People’s Republic of China was declared in that year.
Mao made clear his dedication to constant battle with the West when, in 1950, he sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops into North Korea to battle U.S. troops during the Korean War. For nearly three years the war raged, ending with a cease-fire in 1953. In the late 1950s, Mao began to withdraw from an active role in the Chinese government, but he returned with a vengeance in the mid-1960s when he led the “Cultural Revolution,” which was designed to reinvigorate what he saw as the nation’s flagging revolutionary spirit. The “revolution” amounted to frenzied calls from Mao and his supporters for greater dedication to the true ideals of communism and increasingly vociferous verbal assaults against both the Soviet Union (because of its “revisionist” tendencies) and the “imperialism aggression” of the United States. Thousands of Chinese were killed or imprisoned by Mao’s young supporters, called the Red Guards.
Internationally, forces were pushing Mao to seek a closer relationship with the United States. Since the early 1960s, relations between China and the Soviet Union deteriorated steadily, and there were frequent border clashes between their respective armed forces. By the late 1960s, Mao came to see the Soviet Union as a more dangerous threat to China than the United States. He therefore sought closer relations with the Americans, hoping to use them as allies in his battle with the Soviets. Mao’s efforts resulted in a dramatic change in relations between the U.S. and China, climaxing in President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972.
The meeting with Nixon was one of Mao’s last great public successes. Nearing 80 years of age, Mao began to make less frequent appearances. He also began to suffer the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Mao died in 1976, still holding the position of Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.
Sep 09 1990 – U.S.*Iraq: Bush/ Gorbachev Meeting » George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Helsinki and urge Iraq to leave Kuwait. Hussein’s dictatorship was exceptionally brutal, with the total number of deaths from purges and genocide conservatively estimated at a quarter of a million people. In 1980 he invaded neighboring Iran which started a ruinous eight-year war that led to no border changes and hundreds of thousands of war dead on both sides. In 1990 he started the Gulf War by invading and annexing Kuwait. Through the 1990s Iraq suffered from UN sanctions and isolation. Beginning in the early 2000s under the presidency of George W. Bush, Hussein was accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction and was deposed in a 2003 invasion. Though no weapons were found, he was tried and convicted of crimes against humanity and executed on December 30, 2006 at age 69.
Sep 09 2004 – Terrorism: Australian Embassy Bombing in Jakarta » A one-ton car bomb, which was packed into a small Daihatsu delivery van, exploded outside the Australian embassy at Kuningan District, South Jakarta, at about 10:30 local time, killing 9 people including the suicide bomber, and wounding over 150 others. The explosion gutted the Greek embassy on the 12th floor of an adjacent building, where three diplomats were slightly wounded. Damage to the nearby Chinese embassy was also reported. Numerous office buildings surrounding the embassy were also damaged by the blast, which shattered windows in buildings 500 yards away, injuring many workers inside, mostly by broken glass.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Jemaah Islamiyah, an organization which has also claimed responsibility for multiple attacks including the 2002 Bali bombing and alleged to have links with al-Qaeda. An Islamist web site, www.islamic-minbar.com posted a statement by Jemaah Islamiyah. On 10 November 2004, Indonesian police arrested Rois, also known as Iwan Dharmawan, along with five other suspects in Merak, West Java. During questioning, Rois claimed that he had received funds for the attack from a courier that was sent by Osama Bin Laden via Malaysia. He stated that the motivation for the bombing was Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war: “The intention to bomb the Australian embassy was because the Australian government is the American lackey most active in supporting American policies to slaughter Muslims in Iraq.
- Sep 10 1776 – American Revolution: Nathan Hale Volunteers to Spy Behind British Lines » General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.
Disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster, the Yale University-educated Hale slipped behind British lines on Long Island and then successfully gathered information about British troop movements for the next several weeks. While Hale was behind enemy lines, the British invaded the island of Manhattan; they took control of the city on September 15, 1776. When the city was set on fire on September 20, 1776, British soldiers were put on high alert for sympathizers to the Patriot cause. The following evening, on September 21, 1776, Hale was captured while sailing Long Island Sound, trying to cross back into American-controlled territory.
Hale was interrogated by British General William Howe and, when it was discovered that he was carrying incriminating documents, General Howe ordered his execution for spying, which was set for the following morning. After being led to the gallows, legend holds that Hale was asked if he had any last words and that he replied with these now-famous words, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement, but, if he did, he may have been inspired by these lines in English author Joseph Addison’s 1713 play Cato: “What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.”
Patriot spy Nathan Hale was hanged by the British on the morning of September 22, 1776. He was just 21 years old. Although rumors later surfaced that Hale’s capture was the result of a betrayal by his first cousin and British Loyalist Samuel Hale, the exact circumstances leading to Hale’s arrest have never been discovered.
- Sep 10 1813 – War of 1812: Battle of Lake Erie – Oliver Hazard Perry, commander of American ships on Lake Erie, mission was to gain naval superiority on the Lake. To accomplish that mission, Perry built two new brigs called the Lawrence and Niagara. Each weighed 500 tons, was armed with 18 32-pound carronades, and had two long-range twelve pounders. Perry also had captured the brig the Caledonia and seven converted schooners.
On this day the British flotilla decided to engage the American fleet anchored at South Bass Island. The Americans had the advantage in terms of the number and weight of their guns. Each American vessel had been assigned an opponent, and after a number of hours of sailing the two fleets were within shooting distance. The Niagara and the Lawrence bore down on the British and forced them to surrender. Perry went on to report the words that made him famous, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Casualties and losses: US 124 – GB 440
- Sep 10 1861 – Civil War: Battle of Cheat Mountain (12-15 Sep) – The battle was the start to Robert E. Lee’s career as a battlefield commander. He had been sent to West Virginia to attempt to restore the Confederate position which had been badly damaged by the Confederate defeat at Rich Mountain on 12 July 1861. Lee’s first targets were the Union positions at Cheat Mountain and Elkwater, guarding the Staunton Turnpike, one of the best roads through the mountains between the Shenandoah Valley and West Virginia. He had 9,000 men with which to carry out this operation. Unfortunately they were not in the best of condition. The weather was also poor (which generally favors the defenders). The situation was made worse by Lee’s over ambitious plan. He split his force into five columns, and sent them by different routes towards the two main Union positions.
The result of this was that Lee’s men launched a series of uncoordinated, piecemeal attacks on the Federal position. The Union commander on the spot, General John Reynolds, reported attacks on both positions on 12 SEP, Elkwater on 13 SEP, both positions again on 14 SEP and the strongest attack on Cheat Mountain on 15 SEP. Each of these attacks was repulsed, and after the attack on 15 SEP Lee called off his attacks. Reynolds’ forces lost a total of 88 casualties (10 killed, 14 wounded, and 64 captured); Confederate casualties were unreported but Reynolds and Kimball claimed 100 Confederates were killed and twenty were captured.
The battle had little effect on either side’s campaign or the war. Both forces after the battle were in positions similar to their positions before the battle. In October, Lee left Cheat Mountain for Sewell Mountain (West Virginia) in the Kanawha River valley but he was forced to cancel the offensive operations he had planned due to low supplies and bad weather. Lee was recalled to Richmond on 30 OCT after achieving little in western Virginia.
- Sep 10 1861 – Civil War: Battle of Carnifex Ferry » In late August 1861, Confederate forces of ~2,000 men under Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd crossed the Gauley River and surprised the 7th Ohio Infantry under Col. Erastus Tyler at Kessler’s Cross Lanes. Outnumbered, Tyler’s inexperienced men routed, and Floyd camped near Carnifex Ferry. The Confederates began throwing up entrenchments on the Henry Patteson farm (located on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon near Summersville).
Concerned about Floyd’s drive to reclaim the Kanawha Valley, Union Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans led three brigades of infantry of ~5000 men southward from Clarksburg to support Tyler’s regrouped regiment. Moving into position on the afternoon of 10 SEP, Rosecrans advanced against Floyd’s campsite and attacked. The Confederate lines repulsed the attacks and the Federal casualties were significantly higher than the defenders. The strength of Rosecrans’s artillery proved to be problematic however, and Floyd decided to retreat that night across the ferry to the south side of the Gauley River. He subsequently moved eastward to Meadow Bluff near Lewisburg.
The battle resulted in a Union strategic victory that contributed to the eventual Confederate withdrawal from western Virginia. The action was instrumental in helping preserve western Virginia for the Union and the campaign helped pave the way for the subsequent creation of the separate state of West Virginia. Floyd, seeking to deflect the blame, placed the responsibility for the defeat on his co-commander Brigadier General Henry A. Wise, furthering the dissension that marked the Confederate high command in western Virginia. Casualties and losses: US 17 killed & 141 wounded – CSA unknown killed & 30 wounded.
- Sep 10 1905 – Post Russo*Japanese War: Japanese Battleship Mikasa Explodes » A pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1890s named after Mount Mikasa in Nara, Japan. The ship served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō throughout the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war and the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. Days after the end of the war, Mikasa’s magazine accidentally exploded and sank the ship. She was salvaged and her repairs took over two years to complete. Afterwards, the ship served as a coast-defense ship during World War I and supported Japanese forces during the Siberian Intervention in the Russian Civil War. After 1922, Mikasa was decommissioned in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty and preserved as a museum ship at Yokosuka.
- Sep 10 1919 – Latin America Interventions: Honduras. U.S. Marines land during election campaign.
- Sep 10 1919 – WWI: New York City Parade Honors WWI veterans » On this day in 1919, almost one year after an armistice officially ended the First World War, New York City holds a parade to welcome home General John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), and some 25,000 soldiers who had served in the AEF’s 1st Division on the Western Front.
The United States, which maintained its neutrality when World War I broke out in Europe in the summer of 1914, declared war on Germany in April 1917. Though the U.S. was initially able to muster only about 100,000 men to send to France under Pershing’s command that summer, President Woodrow Wilson swiftly adopted a policy of conscription. By the time the war ended on November 11, 1918, more than 2 million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives. Demobilization began in late 1918; by September 1919 the last combat divisions had left France, though an occupation force of 16,000 U.S. soldiers remained until 1923, based in the town of Coblenz, Germany, as part of the post-war Allied presence in the Rhine Valley determined by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
Before the AEF’s combat units left service, the U.S. War Department gave citizens the chance to honor their troops. “New York lived yesterday probably the last chapter in its history of great military spectacles growing out of the war,” trumpeted The New York Times of the parade that took place September 10, 1914. According to the paper, an enthusiastic crowd turned out to cheer the 25,000 members of the 1st Division, who filed down Fifth Avenue from 107th Street to Washington Square in Greenwich Village, wearing trench helmets and full combat equipment.
The Times report continued: “It was the town’s first opportunity to greet the men of the 1st Division, and to let them know it remembered their glorious part in the American Army’s smashing drives at Toul, at Cantigny, at Soissons, at St. Mihiel, and at the Meuse and the Argonne.” The loudest cheers were for Pershing himself, who “was kept at almost continual salute by the tributes volleyed at him from both sides of the avenue.”
Pershing led a similar parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. on September 17; two days later, he addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress, which that same month created a new rank for him—”General of the Armies,” a rank only he has held—making him the highest-ranking military figure in the country. During his tenure as chief of staff of the U.S. Army, from 1921 to 1924, Pershing completely reorganized the structure of the army, combining the regular army, the National Guard, and the permanent army reserves into one organization. Upon his retirement, he headed up a commission supervising the construction of American war memorials in France. Pershing died in 1948.
- Sep 10 1939 – WW2: Bahrain, Canada, and Oman declare war on Nazi Germany.
- Sep 10 1939 – WW2: British Submarine Oxley Sunk » When the Admiralty was notified that the United Kingdom would declare war on Germany, five submarines of the 2nd Submarine Flotilla were ordered to patrol on the Obrestad line off Norway on 24 August 1939. Thus, on 3 SEP all British submarines were in their combat patrol sectors. At 1955 on 10 SEP, Triton had surfaced, fixed a position off the Obrestad Light, set a slow zigzag patrol, and began charging batteries. Lieutenant Commander Steel, having verified that the area was clear and having posted lookouts, gave the bridge to the officer of the watch and went below, leaving orders that he was to be called if anything unusual appeared. At 2045, he was called to the bridge when an object in the water could be seen very fine on the port bow.
Steel ordered propulsion shifted to the main motors, the signalman to the bridge, and torpedo tubes 7 and 8 readied for firing. The object was recognized as a submarine low in the water. Once on the bridge, the signalman sent three challenges over several minutes with the box lamp, none of which were answered. Steel wondered if the boat could be HMS Oxley, which should have been patrolling next in line, but some distance away. Steel and his bridge crew studied the silhouette, but could not distinguish what type of submarine it was. A fourth challenge was sent: three green rifle-grenade flares. After firing, Steel counted slowly to 15 and then decided that they were seeing a German U-boat. He ordered tubes 7 and 8 fired with a three-second interval. Less than a minute later, an explosion was heard.
Triton moved into the area to investigate and heard cries for help. The light from the Aldis lamp revealed three men floundering amid oil and debris. Lieutenant Guy C. I. St.B. Watkins and Lieutenant Harry A. Stacey entered the water and rescued Lieutenant Commander H.G. Bowerman, Oxley’s commanding officer, as well as Able Seaman Gluckes, a lookout. The third person in the water, Lieutenant F.K. Manley, was seen to be swimming strongly when he suddenly sank from view. Neither Manley’s body nor any other survivors from Oxley were found. A Board of Enquiry found that Steel had done all he reasonably could in the circumstances. Oxley was out of position, Triton had acted correctly, and the first Allied submarine casualty of World War II was due to “friendly fire.” During the war, the loss of Oxley was attributed to an accidental explosion. After the war, it was explained to have been a collision with Triton. The truth was not revealed until the 1950s.
- Sep 10 1940 – WW2: British War Cabinet Reacts to the Blitz in Kind » In light of the destruction and terror inflicted on Londoners by a succession of German bombing raids, called “the Blitz,” the British War Cabinet instructs British bombers over Germany to drop their bombs “anywhere” if unable to reach their targets.
The prior two nights of bombing had wrought extraordinary damage, especially in the London slum area, the East End. King George VI even visited the devastated area to reassure the inhabitants that their fellow countrymen were with them in heart and mind. Each night since the seventh, sirens had sounded to announce the approach of incoming German planes, which had begun dropping bombs indiscriminately in the London vicinity, even though the docks had been their primary target on Day One of the Blitz. As British bombers set out for Germany to retaliate, they were instructed not to return home with their bombs if they failed to locate their original targets. Instead, they were to release their loads where and when they could.
On the night of the 10th, a night when British Home Intelligence had been alerted of how panicked Londoners were becoming at the sound of those air-raid sirens, Berlin was paid in kind, with a cascade of British bombs—one of which even landed in the garden of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Party’s minister of propaganda.
- Sep 10 1942 – WW2: Bombing of Dusseldorf, Germany » On this day the RAF dropped 100,000 bombs on Dusseldorf. The city was a target of strategic bombing during much of the second half of the war, particularly during the RAF bombing campaign in 1943 when over 700 bombers were used in a single night. Raids continued late into the war. As part of the campaign against German oil facilities, the RAF raid of 20–21, 1945 on the Rhenania Ossag refinery in the Reisholz district of the city halted oil production there. The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Düsseldorf in mid-April 1945. The United States 97th Infantry Division easily captured the city on 18 April 1945, after the local German Resistance group launched Aktion Rheinland.
- Sep 10 1944 – WW2: Allied Forces Liberate Luxembourg, Belgium » In Allied tanks entered the capital city on 10 September 1944, where the Germans retreated without fighting. The Allied advance triggered the resistance to rise up: at Vianden, members of the Luxembourgish resistance fought a much larger German force at the Battle of Vianden Castle. Most of Luxembourg was rapidly liberated in September 1944 when the front line stabilized behind the Our and Sauer Rivers along the Luxembourg-German frontier. In mid-December, the Germans launched the “Ardennes Offensive” in Luxembourg and the Belgian Ardennes. Though the city of Luxembourg remained in Allied hands throughout, much of the north of the country was lost to German forces and had to be liberated again.
Gustav Simon, the Nazi Gauleiter responsible for Moselland and Luxembourg, fled but was captured and imprisoned by the British Army. He committed suicide in an Allied prison. In Luxembourg too, collaborators were imprisoned and tried. Damian Kratzenberg, founder and leader of VdB, was one of those executed for his role. Two German V-3 cannon with a range of 25 mi were used to bombard the city of Luxembourg from December 1944 until February 1945.
- Sep 10 1945 – Post WW2: Vidkun Quisling Sentenced to Death » Quisling was a Norwegian military officer and politician who nominally headed the government of Norway during the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany during World War II. He was sentenced to death for collaborating with the Nazis.
In 1933 he founded the fascist party Nasjonal Samling (National Union). Although he achieved some popularity after his attacks on the political left, his party failed to win any seats in the Storting and by 1940 it was still little more than peripheral. On 9 April 1940, with the German invasion of Norway in progress, he attempted to seize power in the world’s first radio-broadcast coup d’état, but failed after the Germans refused to support his government. From 1942 to 1945 he served as Prime Minister of Norway, heading the Norwegian state administration jointly with the German civilian administrator Josef Terboven. His pro-Nazi puppet government, known as the Quisling regime, was dominated by ministers from Nasjonal Samling. The collaborationist government participated in Germany’s genocidal Final Solution.
Quisling was put on trial during the legal purge in Norway after World War II. He was found guilty of charges including embezzlement, murder and high treason against the Norwegian state, and was sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad at Akershus Fortress, Oslo, on 24 October 1945. The word “quisling” became a byword for “collaborator” or “traitor” in several languages, reflecting the contempt with which Quisling’s conduct has been regarded, both at the time and since his death.
- Sep 10 1963 – National Guard: President John F. Kennedy federalizes Alabama’s National Guard to prevent Governor George C. Wallace from using guardsmen to stop public-school desegregation.
- Sep 10 1964 – Vietnam War: President Johnson Sends Signal to Both North and South Vietnamese » Following the Tonkin Gulf incidents, in which North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked U.S. destroyers, and the subsequent passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution empowering him to react to armed attacks, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorizes a series of measures “to assist morale in South Vietnam and show the Communists [in North Vietnam] we still mean business.”
- Sep 10 1989 – Cold War: Hungary Allows East Germans Refugees to Leave » In a dramatic break with the eastern European communist bloc, Hungary gives permission for thousands of East German refugees to leave Hungary for West Germany. It was the first time one of the Warsaw Pact nations-who were joined in the defensive alliance between Russia and its Eastern Europe satellites–broke from the practice of blocking citizens of the communist nations from going to the West.
- Sep 11 1776 – American Revolution: British–American peace conference on Staten Island fails to stop American Revolutionary War.
- Sep 11 1777 – American Revolution: The Battle of Brandywine » In the afternoon General Sir William Howe and General Charles Cornwallis launched a full-scale British attack on General George Washington and the Patriot outpost at Brandywine Creek near Chadds Ford in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, on the road linking Baltimore and Philadelphia. Howe and Cornwallis spilt their 18,000 British troops into two separate divisions, with Howe leading an attack from the front and Cornwallis circling around and attacking from the right flank. The morning had provided the British troops with cover from a dense fog, so Washington was unaware the British had split into two divisions and was caught off guard by the oncoming British attack.
American troops advancing at the Battle of Brandywine Creek
Although the Americans were able to slow the advancing British, they were soon faced with the possibility of being surrounded. When the Continental Army troops began to yield Casimir Pulaski, a Polish volunteer in the Continental Army cavalry reconnoitered with Washington’s bodyguard of about 30 men and reported that the enemy were endeavoring to cut off the line of retreat. Washington ordered him to collect as many as possible of the scattered troops who came his way and employ them according to his discretion to secure the retreat of the army. His subsequent charge averted a disastrous defeat of the Continental Army cavalry and saved the life of George Washington.
Surprised and outnumbered by the 18,000 British troops to his 11,000 Continentals, Washington ordered his men to abandon their posts and retreat. Defeated, the Continental Army marched north and camped at Germantown, Pennsylvania. The British abandoned their pursuit of the Continentals and instead began the British occupation of Philadelphia. Congress, which had been meeting in Philadelphia, fled first to Lancaster, then to York, Pennsylvania, and the British took control of the city without Patriot opposition.
The one-day battle at Brandywine cost the Americans more than 1,100 men killed or captured while the British lost approximately 600 men killed or injured. To make matters worse, the Patriots were also forced to abandon most of their cannon to the British victors after their artillery horses fell in battle. As a result of Casimir Pulaski’s actions, on the orders of Congress Washington on 15 SEP made him a brigadier general in the Continental Army cavalry. At that point, the cavalry was only a few hundred men strong organized into four regiments. These men were scattered among numerous infantry formations, and used primarily for scouting duties. Pulaski immediately began work on reforming the cavalry, and wrote the first regulations for the formation of the American cavalry.
- Sep 11 1813 – War of 1812: British troops arrive in Mount Vernon and prepare to march to and invade Washington D.C.
- Sep 11 1814 – War of 1812: Battle of Lake Champlain (Plattsburgh) 6-11 SEP » With the war in Europe over, the British gained an additional 18,000 troops in Canada. The British commander, General Izard, decided to invade the United States through Lake Champlain. Commanding the American Naval forces was Lieutenant Macdonald. Izard was called to the Niagara front with 4,000 men. New York called for its militia to fall out in mass. Only 700 hundred militiamen answered the call. They harassed the British as they advanced, but could do little more. On 6 SEP, General Macomb sent two detachments of regulars each with 200 men to delay the British. The regulars were successful in delaying the British. They fought brief encounters with the British and then fell back in good order.
The British neared the main American line on the south side of the Saranac River. The Americans had removed the planks over the river and the British were unable to cross. Under these conditions British commander General Prevost decided to await arrival of British ships to support his assault on American lines. While the British were awaiting the arrival of their naval support, 2000 Vermont militia arrived to aid the American forces. Macdonald prepared to fight the navy battle from Plattsburg Bay. He organized his ships in such a way that the British would not be able to fight from a long distance, thus minimizing the British advantage in long guns.
On the morning of 11 SEP the British fleet commanded by Captain George Downey arrived. The British fleet consisted of 16 vessels. The British approached the American stronghold and the HMS Confiance opened up a full broadside on the USS Saratoga. Before long both the British and the Americans had lost one ship and most of the American ships were badly damaged. MacDonald previous plan now came into play. The undamaged side of the American ships now faced the British ships that were unable to counterattack. The Americans opened with a total broadside and the Confiance was forced to strike her colors. Three other British ships were then lost, Captain Downie was killed, and soon the battle was over. The Americans had won one the most important battles of the war. Once the naval battle was over, Prévost abandoned the attack by land against Macomb’s defenses and retreated to Canada, stating that even if Plattsburgh was captured, any British troops there could not be supplied without control of the lake. Casualties and losses: US 220 – GB/CAN 939.
When the battle took place 6-11 SEP, American and British delegates were meeting at Ghent in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, attempting to negotiate a treaty acceptable to both sides to end the war. The American victory at Plattsburgh, and the successful defense at the Battle of Baltimore, which began the next day and halted British advances in the Mid-Atlantic states, denied the British negotiators leverage to demand any territorial claims against the United States on the basis of Uti possidetis, i.e. retaining territory they held at the end of hostilities. The Treaty of Ghent, in which captured or occupied territories were restored on the basis of Status quo ante bellum, was signed three months after the battle.
- Sep 11 1857 – Native Americans: Mountain Meadows Massacre » Indians incited by Mormon John D. Lee kill 120 California-bound settlers.
- Sep 11 1861 – Civil War: Rebels begin Cheat Mountain campaign (12-15 Sep) » Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee move into position against a Union stronghold on Cheat Mountain in western Virginia, only to retreat three days later without firing a shot. The rebels became convinced that the Union garrison numbered at least 4,000 with reinforcements on the way. In fact, just 300 Yankees manned the defenses on the mountain.
- Sep 11 1864 – Civil War: A 10-day truce is declared between generals William Sherman and John Hood so civilians may leave Atlanta, Georgia.
- Sep 11 1904 – U.S. Navy: The battleship Connecticut, launched in New York, introduces a new era in naval construction.
- Sep 11 1915 – WWI: Zimmerwald Conference Issues a Call for Immediate Peace » In Zimmerwald, Switzerland, delegates to the First International Socialist Conference call for an immediate end to the First World War. According to the conference’s manifesto, “the war which has produced such chaos was the outcome of imperialism, of the attempt, on the part of the capitalist classes of each nation, to foster their greed for profit by the exploitation of human labor and of the natural treasures of the entire globe.”
- Sep 11 1916 – WWI: German troops conquer Kavalla Greece.
- Sep 11 1919 – U.S.*Honduras: U.S. Marines again send troops to Honduras.
- Sep 11 1940 – WW2: Hitler Focuses East, Sends Troops to Romania » Adolf Hitler sends German army and air force reinforcements to Romania to protect precious oil reserves and to prepare an Eastern European base of operations for further assaults against the Soviet Union.
As early as 1937, Romania had come under control of a fascist government that bore great resemblance to that of Germany’s, including similar anti-Jewish laws. Romania’s king, Carol II, dissolved the government a year later because of a failing economy and installed Romania’s Orthodox Patriarch as prime minister. But the Patriarch’s death and peasant uprising provoked renewed agitation by the fascist Iron Guard paramilitary organization, which sought to impose order. In June 1940, the Soviet Union co-opted two Romanian provinces, and the king searched for an ally to help protect it and appease the far right within its own borders. So on July 5, 1940, Romania allied itself with Nazi Germany—only to be invaded by its “ally” as part of Hitler’s strategy to create one huge eastern front against the Soviet Union.
King Carol abdicated on September 6, 1940, leaving the country in the control of the fascist Prime Minister Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. While Romania would recapture the territory lost to the Soviet Union when the Germans invaded Russia, it would also have to endure the Germans’ raping its resources as part of the Nazi war effort. Besides taking control of Romania’s oil wells and oil installations, Hitler would help himself to Romania’s food crops—causing a food shortage for native Romanians.
- Sep 11 1941 – Pre U.S. WW2: FDR orders any Axis ship found in American waters be shot on sight.
- Sep 11 1941 – Pre U.S. WW2: Charles Lindbergh’s Des Moines Speech accusing the British, Jews and the Roosevelt administration of pressing for war with Germany
- Sep 11 1944 – WW2: The first Allied troops of the U.S. Army cross the western border of Germany at Luxembourg.
- Sep 11 1945 – Post WW2: Hideki Tojo Attempts Suicide » After Japan’s unconditional surrender U.S. general Douglas MacArthur ordered the arrest of forty alleged war criminals, including Tojowho was Japanese Prime Minister during most of the war. Five American GIs were sent to serve the arrest warrant on 11 SEP. As American soldiers surrounded Hideki’s house he shot himself in the chest with a pistol but missed his heart. As a result of this experience, the Army had medical personnel present during the later arrests of other accused Japanese war criminals, such as Shigetarō Shimada.
As he bled, he began to talk, and two Japanese reporters recorded his words: “I am very sorry it is taking me so long to die. The Greater East Asia War was justified and righteous. I am very sorry for the nation and all the races of the Greater Asiatic powers. I wait for the righteous judgment of history. I wished to commit suicide but sometimes that fails.” After recovering from his injuries, Tojo was moved to Sugamo Prison. While there, he received a new set of dentures, made by an American dentist, into which the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” had been secretly drilled in Morse code. The dentist ground away the message three months later.
Tojo was tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for war crimes and found guilty of, among other things, waging wars of aggression; war in violation of international law; unprovoked or aggressive war against various nations; and ordering, authorizing, and permitting inhumane treatment of prisoners of war. Crimes committed by Imperial Japan were responsible for the deaths of millions, some estimate between 3 million and 14 million civilians and prisoners of war through massacre, human experimentation, starvation, and forced labor that was either directly perpetrated or condoned by the Japanese military and government with a significant portion of them occurring during Tojo’s rule of the military.
Tojo accepted full responsibility for his actions during the war. He was sentenced to death on November 12, 1948, and executed by hanging 41 days later on 23 DEC, a week before his 64th birthday. Before his execution, he gave his military ribbons to one of his guards; they are on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. In his final statement, he apologized for the atrocities committed by the Japanese military and urged the American military to show compassion toward the Japanese people, who had suffered devastating air attacks and the two atomic bombings.
- Sep 11 1965 – Vietnam War: 1st Cavalry Division Arrives in Country » 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) begins to arrive in South Vietnam at Qui Nhon, bringing U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam to more than 125,000. The unit, which had a long and storied history, was the first full U.S. Army division deployed to Vietnam. The division consisted of nine battalions of airmobile infantry, an air reconnaissance squadron, and six battalions of artillery. The division also included the 11th Aviation Group, made up of three aviation battalions consisting of 11 companies of assault helicopters, assault support helicopters, and gunships.
The division used a new concept by which the ground maneuver elements were moved around the battlefield by helicopters. Initially deployed to the II Corps area at Qui Nhon, the division took part in the first major engagement between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley fought in November, just two months after the division began arriving in Vietnam. Later, the division moved further north to I Corps in 1968 to relieve the embattled U.S. Marines at Hue during the Tet Offensive; in October of the same year, they redeployed to III Corps to conduct operations to protect Saigon; and in 1970, the division took part in the invasion of Cambodia and conducted operations in both III and IV Corps (the Mekong Delta).
Thus, the 1st Cavalry Division, popularly known as the “First Team,” was the only American division to fight in all four corps tactical zones. The bulk of the division began departing Vietnam in late April 1970, but the 3rd Brigade remained until June 1972. The 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and “First Team” soldiers won 25 Medals of Honor, 120 Distinguished Service Crosses, 2,766 Silver Stars, 2,697 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 8,408 Bronze Stars for Valor.
- Sep 11 1967 – Vietnam War: Siege of Con Thien (11 Sep – 31 Oct) » U.S. Marines are besieged by NVA at Con Thien located two miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. A massive long-range artillery duel then erupts between NVA and U.S. guns during the siege as NVA fire 42,000 rounds at the Marines while the U.S. responds with 281,000 rounds and B-52 air strikes to lift the siege. NVA losses are estimated at over 2000.
- Sep 11 1968 – Vietnam War: Heavy Fighting Rages in Tay Ninh » A major battle begins for control of Tay Ninh City. More than 1,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked the provincial capital, capturing part of the city. The next day, 2,000 South Vietnamese reinforcements were sent in to aid the local garrison and after a four-day battle, the North Vietnamese were driven out of the city.
- Sep 11 1968 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese forces launched Operation Lam Son 261 in Thua Thien and Quang Tri Provinces in I Corps Tactical Zone. The operation lasted until April 24, 1969, resulting in 724 enemy casualties.
- Sep 11 1971 – Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev Dies » Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, one of the most significant figures of the Cold War and certainly one of the most colorful, dies. During the height of his power in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Khrushchev was involved in some of the most important events of the Cold War.
Khrushchev was born in Kalinovka, Russia, near the Ukrainian border, in 1894. He was an early adherent to the communist cause in Russia, but his rise to power really began in the 1930s. His loyalty to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin served him well during that tumultuous decade, as many other communist party leaders fell to Stalin’s wrath and suspicions. Khrushchev worked his way up the party hierarchy, and his organizational skills in the areas of Russian industry and agriculture brought him praise during World War II. After the war, Stalin brought Khrushchev into the highest echelons of both the party and government. When Stalin died in 1953, many observers outside of Russia thought it unlikely that the brusque and seemingly uneducated Khrushchev could survive without his mentor.
Khrushchev fooled them all, however, and through a series of alliances with others in the party and the military, succeeded in removing any opposition to his power by 1955. After that year, Khrushchev was thoroughly in charge in Russia. He surprised many of his colleagues and Western observers when he began to talk about the idea of “peaceful coexistence” with the United States. He also moved to decentralize some of the rigid state economic controls that he believed were stifling Soviet economic development. In a 1956 speech before the Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, he denounced Stalin and his police state tactics.
In terms of international relations, Khrushchev cut an interesting figure. Many people dismissed him as a boorish, ignorant peasant. However, the Russian leader was an adept and clever negotiator, who often used those negative perceptions to his advantage. During the late 1950s, he tried to work for closer relations with the United States, and in 1959 became the first Soviet leader to visit America. Relations quickly soured, however, when the Soviets shot down an American U-2 spy plane over Russia in 1960. A planned U.S.-Soviet summit was canceled. During that same year, Khrushchev achieved instant celebrity status when, during a debate at the United Nations, he took off his shoe and pounded the table to get attention.
In 1962, the Soviet Union and the United States nearly went to war when the Russians attempted to install nuclear missiles in Cuba and U.S. naval forces quarantined the island. Tense negotiations with President John F. Kennedy followed, the Russian missiles were withdrawn, and the United States promised not to invade Cuba in an attempt to overthrow communist leader Fidel Castro. While war was averted, the incident cost Khrushchev dearly in terms of support at home. Many communist party officials and a growing number of military men had grown anxious about Khrushchev’s idea of “peaceful coexistence” with America, and his calls for a reduced military budget convinced some that he would reduce Russia to a second-class power. The 1962 Cuban missile crisis was viewed as a terrible embarrassment for the Soviet Union. In 1964, Khrushchev’s opponents organized a political coup against him and he was forced into retirement. The remainder of his life was rather solitary-he was forgotten by most and reviled by many in Russia.
- Sep 11 2001 – War On Terrorism: 911 Attack on America » At 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767–United Airlines Flight 175–appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center, and sliced into the south tower at about the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack.
The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization, they were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War, and its continued military presence in the Middle East. Some of the terrorists had lived in the United States for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the U.S. in the months before September 11 and acted as the “muscle” in the operation. The 19 terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming the ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles.
As millions watched in horror the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to a structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.
Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 mph and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. At 10:30 a.m., the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 other people were treated for injuries, many severe.
Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane–United Flight 93–was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett, Jr., told his wife over the phone that “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” Another passenger–Todd Beamer–was heard saying “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll” over an open line. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and explained that she had slipped into a galley and was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to him were “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”
The passengers fought the four hijackers and are suspected to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.
At 7 p.m., President George W. Bush, who had spent the day being shuttled around the country because of security concerns, returned to the White House. At 9 p.m., he delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” In a reference to the eventual U.S. military response he declared: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S.-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network based there, began on October 7, 2001. Bin Laden was killed during a raid of his compound in Pakistan by U.S. forces on May 2, 2011.
- Sep 11 2007 – Cold War: Russia detonates a nano-bomb; dubbed the “Father of All Bombs”. It is the largest non-nuclear weapon developed to date.
- Sep 11 2012 – Terrorism: Middle East » The US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked and burned down; 4 Americans are killed including the US ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens.
- Sep 11 2012 – Terrorism: Patriot Day established to remember those who perished in the attack on the United States by radical Islamic terrorists.
- Sep 11 2018 – U.S.*Syria: American-backed militia begins final push to oust militants from Hajin, Syria, last area under Islamic State control
- Sep 11 2019 – Cold War: Russia launches its largest military exercise since 1981 involving 300,000 personal with Chinese troops participating.
- Sep 12 1777 – American Revolution: Congress Receives News of Defeat at Brandywine » The Continental Congress receives a letter from Continental Army General George Washington informing them of the Patriot defeat at Brandywine, Pennsylvania. Congress, which had been meeting in Philadelphia, fled first to Lancaster, then to York, Pennsylvania, and the British took control of Philadelphia without Patriot opposition.
- Sep 12 1787 – American Revolution: American statesman George Mason suggests the addition of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution modeled on previous state declarations, but the motion is defeated. As a result, he didn’t sign the document. Historians explain that Mason did not believe the Constitution established a wise and just government, hotly fought against it during Virginia ratification. He was one of only three delegates present in the final days of the convention who didn’t sign. The other two were Elbridge Gerry, who was known to be cantankerous by nature, and Edmond Randolph, who was afraid to be associated with something that might fail.
- Sep 12 1814 – War of 1812: Battle of Baltimore (North Point)12-15 SEP » Baltimore was the third largest city in the United States and its harbor was the home of many US privateers, providing an attractive target for British Admiral Cochrane. In the early morning hours of 12 SEP, General Ross ‘ troops disembarked from the British ships. The defenses at Baltimore were stronger than those of Washington, and the Maryland militia numbered 9,000. Obstacles such as felled trees that the militia had placed in their way immediately slowed the British advance. At 8am, as the British were advancing across the North Point Peninsula between the Bear Creek and Black River, they encountered the Maryland militia. 3,000 militiamen commanded by Brigadier John Stricker were now blocking their way.
General Ross stopped for breakfast at a farm for dinner. When asked as he was leaving if he would be back for dinner, Ross is reported to have said- “I will either be in Baltimore or Hell for dinner”. A few minutes later Ross rode out near the front of his men, was struck and fatally wounded. The British managed to break through the first two American lines but failed to break the third and their land path to Baltimore was blocked.
Admiral Cochrane then tried to capture Fort McHenry and open the water route to the city. He sent five bomb ketches capable of firing mortar rounds 4,000 yards. Throughout the day and through the night the fort was bombarded. Above the fort hung a large flag. From the areas outside the fort, the only assurance that the stronghold was withstanding the bombardment was the flag. One of those observers was Francis Scott Key. As day turned into night he wondered whether the fort could withstand such a sustained attack. When the mortars stopped, Key feared that the fort had fallen. When the sun began to rise, Key saw the American flag still flying; he quickly penned down the first verse of what was to become the Star Spangled Banner.
- Sep 12 1847 – Mexican–American War: Battle of Chapultepec » This was an assault by American forces on the Mexican forces holding Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The castle, sitting atop a 200-foot tall hill, was an important position for the defense of the city. Six teenage military cadets known as Niños Héroes die defending the Castle during the Battle. The Battle of Chapultepec saw about 2,000 US troops attack 880 Mexican troops and take Chapultepec in a 60–
90 minute battle.
The efforts of the U.S. Marines in this battle and subsequent occupation of Mexico City are memorialized by the opening lines of the Marines’ Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma…”. Thirty men from the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, a group of former United States Army soldiers who joined the Mexican side, were executed en masse during the battle. They had been previously captured at the Battle of Churubusco. Colonel William S. Harney specified that they were to be hanged with Chapultepec in view and that the precise moment of their death was to occur when the U.S. flag replaced the Mexican tricolor atop the citadel. Casualties and losses: U.S. 138 killed, 573 wounded + 23 missing | MEX 600-673 killed, 100 wounded + 100 captured.
- Sep 12 1862 – Civil War: The First Battle of Lexington (12-20 Sep) » Confederate General Sterling Price continues his campaign to secure Missouri in the early days of the war by converging on a Union garrison at Lexington, Missouri. The First Battle of Lexington ended after a week with the surrender of the Federals.
- Sep 12 1862 – Civil War: Battle of Harpers Ferry (12-15 Sep) » As Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army invaded Maryland, a portion of his army, under Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, surrounded and bombarded the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), capturing it. Jackson’s men then rushed to Sharpsburg, Maryland, to rejoin Lee for the Battle of Antietam. Harpers Ferry was a victory for the South.
Jackson had won a great victory at minor expense. Killed and wounded were 217 on the Union side, 286 confederate, mostly from the fighting on Maryland Heights. The Union garrison surrendered 12,419 men, 13,000 small arms, 200 wagons, and 73 artillery pieces. The magnitude of the surrender of U.S. troops was not matched until the Battle of Corregidor during World War II. Confederate soldiers feasted on Union food supplies and helped themselves to fresh blue Federal uniforms, which would cause some confusion in the coming days. About the only unhappy men in Jackson’s force were the cavalrymen, who had hoped to replenish their exhausted mounts.
- Sep 12 1914 – WWI: Battle of the Marne (6-12 Sep) » Just one month into the war, the First Battle of the Marne took place just 30 miles northeast of Paris in the Marne River Valley of France. The Germans had been able to quickly reach this position by implementing the Schlieffen’s plan. The plan aimed to end a two-front war as quickly as possible. It involved speed and Belgium. At that time in history, the French had heavily fortified their border with Germany; thus it would take months, if not longer, for the Germans to try to break through those defenses. Schlieffen advocated circumventing these fortifications by invading France from the north via Belgium. However, the assault had to happen quickly—before the Russians could gather their forces and attack Germany from the east.
The downside of Schlieffen’s plan was that Belgium was at that time still a neutral country; a direct attack would bring Belgium into the war on the side of the Allies. The positive side of the plan was that a quick victory over France would bring a swift end to the Western Front and then Germany could shift all of its resources to the east in their fight with Russia. Germany had decided to take its chances and put the Schlieffen Plan, with a few changes, into effect. Schlieffen had calculated that the plan would take only 42 days to complete. The Germans headed to Paris via Belgium.
The Germans had been moving swiftly toward Paris when the French staged a surprise attack that began the First Battle of the Marne. The French, with the aid of some British troops, successfully halted the German advance into France and both sides dug in. The resulting trenches became the first of many that characterized the rest of World War I. Because of their loss at the Battle of the Marne, the Germans, now stuck in muddy, bloody trenches, were not able to eliminate the second front of World War I; thus, the war was to last years rather than months.
- Sep 12 1918 – WWI: U.S. launches Saint-Mihiel offensive (12-15 Sep) » The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under the command of General John J. Pershing launches its first major offensive operation as an independent army during World War I.
- Sep 12 1918 – WWI: British troops retake Havincourt, Moeuvres, and Trescault along the Western Front.
- Sep 12 1939 – Pre WW2: Hitler Demands Self-Determination for Sudeten Germans » Adolph Hitler had his eyes set on the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, which was rich in the natural resources necessary for war, and conveniently populated by ethnic Germans – many of whom genuinely wanted to return to German rule. Hitler’s first move was to order the Sudeten Nazi Party to demand full autonomy for ethnic Germans from Czech leader Benes, knowing that these demands would be refused. He then circulated tales of Czech atrocities towards Sudeten Germans and emphasized their desire to once again be under German rule, in an effort to legitimize his annexation of the territory. If his intentions weren’t already clear enough, 750,000 German troops were sent to the Czech border, officially in order to carry out maneuvers. Unsurprisingly, these developments greatly alarmed the British, who were desperate to avoid another war.
With Hitler now openly demanding the Sudetenland British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew out to meet him, and Sudeten Nazi leader Henlein, on 12 and 15 SEP. Hitler’s response to Chamberlain was that he was refusing the Czech Germans the right to self-determination, and that British “threats” were not appreciated. After meeting with his cabinet Chamberlain met with the Nazi leader once more, and this time agreed that Britain would not oppose a German takeover of the Sudetenland. Hitler however, aware that he had the upper hand, shook his head and told Chamberlain that the Sudetenland was no longer enough. He wanted the state of Czechoslovakia to be carved up and shared between various nations. Chamberlain knew that he could not possibly agree to these terms and war for a time seemed inevitable.
With hours to go before Nazi troops crossed the border into Czechoslovakia, Hitler and his Italian ally Mussolini offered Chamberlain what appeared to be a lifeline: a last-minute conference in Munich, where French Prime Minister Daladier would also be in attendance. The Czechs and Stalin’s USSR were not invited. In the early hours of 30 SEP the Munich Pact was signed, and the Nazis gained ownership of the Sudetenland, which changed hands on 10 October 1938. Chamberlain was initially received as a heroic peacemaker upon returning to Britain, but the consequences of the Munich Pact would merely mean that the war, when it did begin, would begin on Hitler’s terms.
- Sep 12 1939 – WW2: In response to the invasion of Poland, the French Army advances into Germany. On this day they reach their furthest penetration – five miles.
- Sep 12 1940 – WW2: Italian forces begin an offensive into Egypt from Libya.
- Sep 12 1941 – Pre WW2: First Alleged U.S. Capture of Enemy Vessel » SS Buskø was a small Norwegian sealer, seized by the U.S. Coast Guard in East Greenland in September 1941, before U.S. entry into the war. She was bringing supplies and rotating personnel for the Norwegian hunting stations there. The episode is notable not only for the uproar in the American press when Buskø was towed to Boston as a prize, but also because it is frequently but incorrectly listed as being the first American capture of an enemy surface vessel in the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had frequently asserted that Germany would attempt to establish a foothold in Greenland, and the way this episode was presented seemed to bear him out. The affair was a notable early initiative in the North Atlantic weather war.
Buskø′s crew, initially held for lacking “proper traveling documents,” was set free, except for Jacob Bradley, a Norwegian weather observer and telegraphist with German ties, who was detained for three months before emigrating. With the German declaration of war on the United States two months later, the affair disappeared from public memory except as a footnote. Buskø eventually returned to Norway and sank with the loss of 20 men in 1952.
- Sep 12 1942 – WW2: The Laconia is Sunk » A German U-boat sinks a British troop ship, the Laconia, killing more than 1,400 men. The commander of the German sub, Capt. Werner Hartenstein, realizing that Italians POWs were among the passengers, strove to aid in their rescue.
The Laconia, a former Cunard White Star ship put to use to transport troops, including prisoners of war, was in the South Atlantic bound for England when it encountered U-156, a German sub. The sub attacked, sinking the troop ship and imperiling the lives of more than 2,200 passengers. But as Hartenstein, the sub commander, was to learn from survivors he began taking onboard, among those passengers were 1,500 Italians POWs. Realizing that he had just endangered the lives of so many of his fellow Axis members, he put out a call to an Italian submarine and two other German U-boats in the area to help rescue the survivors.
In the meantime, one French and two British warships sped to the scene to aid in the rescue. The German subs immediately informed the Allied ships that they had surfaced for humanitarian reasons. The Allies assumed it was a trap. Suddenly, an American B-24 bomber, the Liberator, flying from its South Atlantic base on Ascension Island, saw the German sub and bombed it—despite the fact that Hartenstein had draped a Red Cross flag prominently on the hull of the surfaced sub. The U-156, damaged by the air attack, immediately submerged. Admiral Karl Donitz, supreme commander of the German U-boat forces, had been monitoring the rescue efforts. He ordered that “all attempts to rescue the crews of sunken ships…cease forthwith.” Consequently, more than 1,400 of the Laconia‘s passengers, which included Polish guards and British crewmen, drowned.
- Sep 12 1942 – WW2: Battle of Edson’s Ridge (12-14 Sep) » The Imperial Japanese Army began their unsuccessful attempt to retake Henderson Field on Guadalcanal from U.S. Marines.
- Sep 12 1943 – WW2: Free French Retake Corsica » After the collapse of France to the German Wehrmacht in 1940, Corsica came under the rule of the Vichy French regime, which was collaborating with Nazi Germany. In November 1942 the island, following the Anglo-American landings in North Africa was occupied by Italian and German forces. After the Italian armistice in September 1943, Italian and Free French Forces pushed the Germans out of the island, making Corsica the first French Department to be freed. Subsequently, the US military established 17 airfields, nicknamed “USS Corsica”, which served as bases for attacks on targets in German-occupied Italy.
- Sep 12 1944 – WW2: U.S. Army troops enter Germany for 1st time.
- Sep 12 1945 – WW2: French troops land in Indochina.
- Sep 12 1953 – Cold War: Khrushchev Elected Soviet Leader » Six months after the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev succeeds him with his election as first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was seen overseas as a reformer of a “petrified structure” and described his main contribution as removing the fear that Stalin had brought, but many of his reforms were later reversed after he was fired from all his posts in OCT 1964.
Born into a Ukrainian peasant family in 1894, Khrushchev worked as a mine mechanic before joining the Soviet Communist Party in 1918. In 1929, he went to Moscow and steadily rose in the party ranks and in 1938 was made first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party. He became a close associate of Joseph Stalin, the authoritative leader of the Soviet Union since 1924. In 1953, Stalin died, and Khrushchev grappled with Stalin’s chosen successor, Georgy Malenkov, for the position of first secretary of the Communist Party. Khrushchev won the power struggle, and Malenkov was made premier, a more ceremonial post. In 1955, Malenkov was replaced by Bulganin, Khrushchev’s hand-picked nominee.
In 1956, Khrushchev denounced Stalin and his totalitarian policies at the 20th Party Congress, leading to a “thaw” in the USSR that saw the release of millions of political prisoners. Almost immediately, the new atmosphere of freedom led to anti-Soviet uprisings in Poland and Hungary. Khrushchev flew to Poland and negotiated a diplomatic solution, but the Hungarian rebellion was crushed by Warsaw Pact troops and tanks.
Khrushchev’s policies were opposed by some hard-liners in the Communist Party, and in June 1957 he was nearly ousted from his position as first secretary. After a brief struggle, he secured the removal of top party members who opposed him, and in 1958 Khrushchev prepared to take on the post of premier. On March 27, 1958, the Supreme Soviet–the Soviet legislature–voted unanimously to make First Secretary Khrushchev also Soviet premier, thus formally recognizing him as the undisputed leader of the USSR.
In foreign affairs, Premier Khrushchev’s stated policy was one of “peaceful coexistence” with the West. He said, “We offer the capitalist countries peaceful competition” and gave the Soviet Union an early lead in the space race by launching the first Soviet satellites and cosmonauts. A visit to the United States by Khrushchev in 1959 was hailed as a new high in U.S.-Soviet relations, but superpower relations would hit dangerous new lows in the early 1960s.
In 1960, Khrushchev walked out of a long-awaited four-powers summit in protest of U.S. spy plane activity over Russia, and in 1961 he authorized construction of the Berlin Wall as a drastic solution to the East German question. Then, in October 1962, the United States and the USSR came close to nuclear war over the USSR’s placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba. After 13 tense days, the Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end when Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the offensive weapons in exchange for a secret U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.
The humiliating resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, an agricultural crisis at home, and the deterioration of Soviet-Chinese relations due to Khrushchev’s moderate policies all led to growing opposition to Khrushchev in the party ranks. On October 14, 1964, Leonid Brezhnev, Khrushchev’s protégé and deputy, organized a successful coup against him, and Khrushchev abruptly stepped down as first secretary and premier. He retired to obscurity outside Moscow and lived there until his death in 1971.
- Sep 12 1959 – Vietnam War: Situation Deteriorates in South Vietnam » North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong tells the French Consul: “You must remember we will be in Saigon tomorrow.” In November, he would tell the Canadian Commissioner: “We will drive the Americans into the sea.” The U.S. Embassy in Saigon eventually passed these remarks along to Washington as evidence of the deteriorating situation in South Vietnam. The United States had taken over from the French in the effort to stem the tide of communism in Southeast Asia. When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, he was faced with a dilemma in Laos and Vietnam. He decided that the line against communism had to be drawn in Vietnam and therefore he increased the number of military advisers to President Ngo Dinh Diem’s government in Saigon. By the time of his assassination in November 1963, there would be more than 16,000 U.S. advisers in South Vietnam. Under his successor, Lyndon Johnson, there would be a steady escalation of the war that ultimately resulted in the commitment of more than half a million U.S. troops in South Vietnam.
- Sep 12 1966– Vietnam War: The heaviest air raid of the war to date occurs as 500 U.S. jets attack NVA supply lines and coastal targets.
- Sep 12 1969 – Vietnam War: President Richard Nixon orders a resumption in bombing North Vietnam.
- Sep 12 1972 – Vietnam War: U.S. intelligence agencies (the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency) report to the National Security Council that the North Vietnamese have 100,000 regular troops in South Vietnam and can sustain fighting “at the present rate” for two years.
- Sep 12 1990 – Cold War: German Occupation Rights are Relinquished » Representatives from the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union sign an agreement giving up all occupation rights in Germany. The largely symbolic action cleared the way for East and West Germany to reunite.
- Sep 12 2003 – Terrorism: Libya » UN lifts sanctions against Libya in exchange for that country accepting responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 and paying recompense to victims’ families.
- Sep 13 1814 – War of 1812: In a turning point of the war the British fail to capture Baltimore, Maryland. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem “Defense of Fort McHenry”, which is later set to music and becomes the United States’ national anthem.
- Sep 13 1847 – Mexican American War: Mexico City Captured (12-13 Sep) » U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott take Chapultepec in a 60-90 minute battle on 12 SEP. With the fortress (Castle) of Chapultepec in their hands, the Americans immediately attacked Mexico City and by nightfall drove Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna, in overall command of the Mexican forces, out of the city. For the battle Gen Scott’s US Army totaled 7,200 men, and Gen Santa Anna’s Mexican Army totaled about 15,000.
- Sep 13 1861 – Civil War: 1st naval battle of the war. Union frigate “Colorado” sinks privateer “Judah” off Pensacola, Fla.
- Sep 13 1862 – Civil War: Union Troops Discover Rebels’ Antietam Battle Plan » Union soldiers find a copy of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s orders detailing the Confederates’ plan for the Antietam campaign near Frederick, Maryland. But Union General George B. McClellan was slow to act, and the advantage the intelligence provided was lost.
On the morning of September 13, the 27th Indiana rested in a meadow outside of Frederick, Maryland, which had served as the site of a Confederate camp a few days before. Sergeant John Bloss and Corporal Barton W. Mitchell found a piece of paper wrapped around three cigars. The paper was addressed to Confederate General D.H. Hill. Its title read, “Special Order No. 191, Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia.” Realizing that they had discovered a copy of the Confederate operation plan, Bloss and Mitchell quickly passed it up the chain of command. By chance, the division adjutant general, Samuel Pittman, recognized the handwriting on the orders as that of a colleague from the prewar army, Robert Chilton, who was the adjutant general to Robert E. Lee.
Pittman took the order to McClellan. The Union commander had spent the previous week mystified by Lee’s operations, but now the Confederate plan was clear. He reportedly gloated, “Here is a paper with which if I cannot whip Bobbie Lee, I will be willing to go home.” McClellan now knew that Lee’s forces were split into five parts and scattered over a 30-mile stretch, with the Potomac River in between. At least eight miles separated each piece of Lee’s army, and McClellan was just a dozen miles from the nearest Confederate unit at South Mountain. Bruce Catton, the noted Civil War historian, observed that no general in the war “was ever given so fair a chance to destroy the opposing army one piece at a time.”
Yet McClellan squandered the opportunity. His initial jubilation was overtaken by his caution. He believed that Lee possessed a far greater number of troops than the Confederates actually had, despite the fact that the Maryland invasion resulted in a high rate of desertion among the Southerners. McClellan was also excruciatingly slow to respond to the information in the so-called Lost Order. He took 18 hours to set his army in motion, marching toward Turner’s Gap and Crampton’s Gap in South Mountain, a 50-mile long ridge that was part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lee, who was alerted to the approaching Federals, sent troops to plug the gaps, allowing him time to gather his scattered units.
- Sep 13 1863 – Civil War: The Loudoun County Rangers route a company of Confederate cavalry at Catoctin Mountain in Virginia.
- Sep 13 1900 – Philippine American War: Filipino resistance fighters defeat a small American column in the Battle of Pulang Lupa.
- Sep 13 1905 – U.S.*Nicaragua: U.S. warships head to Nicaragua on behalf of American William Albers, who was accused of evading tobacco taxes.
- Sep 13 1914 – Pre WWI: Irish Nationalist Seeks German Support » In Washington D.C. the former British diplomat Sir Roger Casement secretly meets with Franz von Papen, the German military attaché, to seek Germany’s support in the effort to win independence from British rule for Ireland. In his meeting with Papen Casement suggested that the Irish Brigade be formed to fight alongside the Germans against Britain and the other Allies in WWI.
Casement continued his campaign for German support with a trip to Germany soon after; by the time he left, he had persuaded the German government to issue a declaration stating that ”Should the fortunes of this great war, that was not of Germany’s seeking, ever bring in its course German troops to the shores of Ireland , they would land there not as an army of invaders to pillage and destroy , but as the forces of a government that is inspired by good-will towards a country and a people for whom Germany desires only national propriety and nation freedom.
Casement failed to secure Germany’s direct support, however, in the form pf sending troops to Ireland. He also failed to recruit any German military officers to assist in the planned Easter Rising, scheduled to place April 24, 1016. He consequently aimed to discourage his fellow organizers from going ahead with the uprising, on the grounds that they were not sufficiently prepared. On his return to Ireland from Berlin, however, Casement was arrested by the British and tried in London for treason
The Easter Rising went ahead without him and was easily crushed by police and government force. Casement was executed by hanging August 3, 1916; his body was returned to Ireland years later, where he was given a state funeral and remembered as a hero of Irish nationalism.
- Sep 13 1918 – WWI: U.S. and French forces take St. Mihiel, France in America’s first action as a standing army.
- Sep 13 1940 – WW2: Italy Invades Egypt » Mussolini’s forces under Marshal Graziani finally cross the Libyan border into Egypt, achieving what the Duce calls the “glory” Italy had sought for three centuries.
Italy had occupied Libya since 1912, a purely economic “expansion.” In 1935, Mussolini began sending tens of thousands of Italians to Libya, mostly farmers and other rural workers, in part to relieve overpopulation concerns. So by the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, Italy had enjoyed a long-term presence in North Africa, and Mussolini began dreaming of expanding that presence—always with an eye toward the same territories the old “Roman Empire” had counted among its conquests. Chief among these was Egypt.
But sitting in Egypt were British troops, which, under a 1936 treaty, were garrisoned there to protect the Suez Canal and Royal Navy bases at Alexandria and Port Said. Hitler had offered to aid Mussolini in his invasion, to send German troops to help fend off a British counterattack. But Mussolini had been rebuffed when he had offered Italian assistance during the Battle of Britain, so he now insisted that as a matter of national pride, Italy would have to create a Mediterranean sphere of influence on its own—or risk becoming a “junior” partner of Germany’s.
As the Blitz commenced, and the land invasion of Britain by Germany was “imminent” (or so the Duce thought), Mussolini believed the British troops in Egypt were particularly vulnerable, and so announced to his generals his plans to make his move into Egypt. Gen. Rodolfo Graziani, the brutal governor of Ethiopia, another Italian colony, disagreed, believing that Italy’s Libya forces were not strong enough to wage an offensive across the desert. Graziani also reminded Mussolini that Italian claims of air superiority in the Mediterranean were nothing more than propaganda. But Mussolini, a true dictator, ignored these protestations and ordered Graziani into Egypt—a decision that would disprove the adage that war is too important to leave to the generals.
- Sep 13 1942 – WW2: Second day of the Battle of Edson’s Ridge in the Guadalcanal campaign. U.S. Marines successfully defeated attacks by the Imperial Japanese Army with heavy losses for the Japanese forces. Casualties and losses: US 263 – JP ~1,200
Dead Japanese soldiers lie on the ridge near Hill 123 after the battle
- Sep 13 1942 – WW2: 30th Infantry division of US 1st Army frees Margraten, Netherlands. Subsequently the American War Cemetery and Memorial Netherlands which contains 8,300 servicemen and women was located there.
- Sep 13 1944 – WW2: U.S. 28th Infantry division opens assault on Siegfried line, a series of defensive construction projects built in the 1930’s opposite the French Maginot line, collectively referred to as the Westwall. It stretched 390 miles from Kleve on the border with the Netherlands.
- Sep 13 1945 – WW2: British Troops Arrive to Disarm the Japanese » In accordance with the Potsdam Agreements, 5,000 British troops of the 20th Indian Division, commanded by Gen. Douglas Gracey, arrive in southern Indochina to disarm the defeated Japanese forces. In North Vietnam, 150,000 Chinese Nationalist soldiers, consisting mainly of poor peasants, arrive in Hanoi after looting Vietnamese villages during their entire march down from China. They then proceed to loot Hanoi.
- Sep 13 1945 – WW2: Iran demands the withdrawal of Allied forces.
- Sep 13 1951 – Korean War: The 32 day Battle of Heart Break Ridge began. The month-long struggle will cost 3,700 casualties.
- Sep 13 1964 – Vietnam War: Attempted Coup Against Khanh Government Fails » Dissident South Vietnamese army officers attempt to overthrow General Nguyen Khan’s government in Saigon, calling their movement the People’s Council for the Salvation of the Nation. General Lam Van Phat, who had been dismissed as interior minister on September 3, and General Duong Van Duc, commander of 4th Corps, led the attempt. Government troops loyal to Khanh moved against the coup’s main base near Tan Son Nhut, but the final blow to the coup came when Air Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky sent air force planes to fly over the insurgent generals’ headquarters and threatened to bomb them if they did not surrender.
- Sep 13 1968 – Vietnam War: Large Operation Begins in the DMZ » The largest sustained operation inside the Demilitarized Zone opens when U.S. and South Vietnamese infantry and armored troops, supported by planes, artillery, and U.S. Navy ships, move two miles into the buffer zone to relieve enemy pressure on Allied bases along the 40-mile stretch of South Vietnam’s northern frontier. The operation achieved the desired objectives and resulted in 742 North Vietnamese killed; U.S. losses were 65 killed and 77 wounded.
- Sep 13 1976 – Cold War: New Book Says War with Russia is Greatest U.S. Threat » A book by two Brookings Institution scholars declares that the threat of war with Russia remains high and that the Soviet Union still poses the greatest danger to the security of the United States. The appearance of the study suggested that the period of “detente” between America and the Soviet Union was nearing its end.
- Sep 13 1976 – Cold War: The United States announces it will veto Vietnam’s UN bid.
- Sep 13 1993 – Israel*Palestine: Peace Accord Signed » After decades of bloody animosity, representatives of Israel and Palestine meet on the South Lawn of the White House and sign a framework for peace. The “Declaration of Principles” was the first agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians towards ending their conflict and sharing the holy land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea that they both claim as their homeland.
The accord called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho and the establishment of a Palestinian government that would eventually be granted authority over much of the West Bank. President Bill Clinton presided over the ceremony, and more than 3,000 onlookers, including former presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter, watched in amazement as Arafat and Rabin sealed the agreement with a handshake. The old bitter enemies had met for the first time at a White House reception that morning.
In his remarks, Rabin, a former top-ranking Israeli army general, told the crowd: “We the soldiers who have returned from the battle stained with blood; we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes; we who have fought against you, the Palestinians; we say to you today in a loud and clear voice: Enough of blood and tears. Enough!” And Arafat, the guerrilla leader who for decades was targeted for assassination by Israeli agents, declared that “The battle for peace is the most difficult battle of our lives. It deserves our utmost efforts because the land of peace yearns for a just and comprehensive peace.”
Despite attempts by extremists on both sides to sabotage the peace process with violence, the Israelis completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho in May 1994. In July, Arafat entered Jericho amid much Palestinian jubilation and set up his government–the Palestinian Authority. In October 1994, Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at reconciliation.
In September 1995, Rabin, Arafat, and Peres signed a peace agreement providing for the expansion of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and for democratic elections to determine the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Just over a month later, on November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Peres became prime minister and pledged to continue the peace process. However, terrorist attacks by Palestinian extremists in early 1996 swayed Israeli public opinion, and in May Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud Party was elected prime minister. Netanyahu insisted that Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat meet his obligation to end terrorism by Palestinian extremists, but sporadic attacks continued and the peace process stalled.
In May 1999, Ehud Barak of the Labor Party defeated Netanyahu in national elections and pledged to take “bold steps” to forge a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. However, extended negotiations with the PLO ended in failure in July 2000, when Barak and Arafat failed to reach an agreement at a summit at Camp David, Maryland. In September 2000, the worst violence since the intifada broke out between Israelis and Palestinians after Likud leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, the holiest Islamic site in Jerusalem. Seeking a strong leader to suppress the bloodshed, Israelis elected Sharon prime minister in February 2001. Though Arafat pledged to join in America’s “war on terror” after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he was not able to garner favor with U.S. President George W. Bush, who was strongly pro-Israel.
In December 2001, after a series of Palestinian suicide attacks on Israel, Bush did nothing to stop Israel as it re-conquered areas of the West Bank and even steamrolled the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters with tanks, effectively imprisoning Arafat within his compound. After Israel dismissed a compromise offer put forth by the Arab League, Palestinian attacks increased, causing Israel to again turn to military intervention in the West Bank. Arafat finally was released from his compound in May 2002, after an agreement was reached which forced him to issue a statement in Arabic instructing his followers to halt attacks on Israel. It was ignored and the violence continued.
In a 2004 interview, George W. Bush rejected Arafat’s status as a legitimate spokesperson for his people, ending hopes for a peace agreement while Arafat was still in power. In late October of that year, reports surfaced that Arafat was seriously ill. He was flown to Paris for treatment, and in early November fell into a coma. He was pronounced dead on November 11.
Mahmoud Abbas became the new chairman of the PLO and was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005. The next year, Hamas, seen by many observers as a terrorist organization, won control of the Palestinian legislative body, complicating any potential negotiations. Despite an Israeli withdrawal from the disputed Gaza territory, and the fact that both sides ostensibly are committed to a two-state solution, peace in the region remains elusive.
- Sep 13 2018 – Islamic extremism: Global and Growing » A new report (Global Extremist Monitor) tracking the roots, spread and effects of violent Islamist extremism found that 121 groups that share elements from a common ideology are now operating worldwide. Their activities resulted in the deaths of 84,000 people – nearly 22,000 of them civilians – in 66 countries in 2017, the report found. There were a total of 7,841 attacks – an average of 21 per day –in 48 countries, it said, with war-torn Syria topping the list of countries most affected by violent extremism. Overall, Muslims were the most frequent victims of deadly attacks. Twenty-nine violent Islamist groups were actively engaged in conflict in Syria in 2017, the report said, with ISIS responsible for 44 percent of all attacks. Half of all civilian fatalities recorded globally were documented in Syria. The report identified 181 female suicide bombers in 2017.
A separate, recent UN report said there are between 20,000 and 30,000 ISIS fighters still operating across Iraq and Syria, though its self-proclaimed physical caliphate has been all but eliminated. In remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Islamist extremism is “global and growing. It didn’t begin with al Qaeda; nor will it end with the defeat of ISIS.”
- SEP 14 1758 – French & Indian War: Battle of Fort Duquesne » A British assault on the eponymous French fort (later the site of Pittsburgh) that was repulsed with heavy losses on 14 September 1758, during the French and Indian War. The attack on Fort Duquesne was part of a large-scale British expedition with 6,000 troops led by General John Forbes to drive the French out of the contested Ohio Country (the upper Ohio River Valley) and clear the way for an invasion of Canada. Forbes ordered Major James Grant of the 77th Regiment to reconnoiter the area with 850 men. Grant, apparently on his own initiative, proceeded to attack the French position using traditional European military tactics. His force was out-maneuvered, surrounded, and largely destroyed by the French and their native allies led by François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery. Major Grant was taken prisoner and the British survivors retreated fitfully to Fort Ligonier.
Though the French had beaten off the initial British attack, Lignery understood that his force of about 600 could not hold Fort Duquesne against the main British force of more than ten times that number. The French continued to occupy Fort Duquesne until 26 NOV, when the garrison set fire to the fort and left under the cover of darkness. As the British marched up to the smoldering remains, they were confronted with an appalling sight. The Indians had decapitated many of the dead Highlanders and impaled their heads on the sharp stakes on top of the fort walls, with their kilts displayed below. The British and Americans rebuilt Fort Duquesne, naming it Fort Pitt after the British Prime Minister William Pitt, who had ordered the capture of that strategic location.
- Sep 14 1814 – War of 1812: Key Pens Star-Spangled Banner » Francis Scott Key pens a poem which is later set to music and in 1931 becomes America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779, at Terra Rubra, his family’s estate in Frederick County (now Carroll County), Maryland. He became a successful lawyer in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and was later appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. On June 18, 1812, America declared war on Great Britain after a series of trade disagreements. In August 1814, British troops invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress. Their next target was Baltimore.
After one of Key’s friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren’t allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.
The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to the music of a popular English drinking tune called “To Anacreon in Heaven” by composer John Stafford Smith. People began referring to the song as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson announced that it should be played at all official events. It was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931. Francis Scott Key died of pleurisy on January 11, 1843. Today, the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1914 is housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
- Sep 14 1847 – Mexican–American War: Scott Captures Mexico City » U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott enter Mexico City and raise the American flag over the Hall of Montezuma, concluding a devastating advance that began with an amphibious landing at Vera Cruz six months earlier.
The Mexican-American War began with a dispute over the U.S. government’s 1845 annexation of Texas. In January 1846, President James K. Polk, a strong advocate of westward expansion, ordered General Zachary Taylor to occupy disputed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers. Mexican troops attacked Taylor’s forces, and on May 13, 1846, Congress approved a declaration of war against Mexico.
On March 9, 1847, U.S. forces under General Winfield Scott invaded Mexico three miles south of Vera Cruz. They encountered little resistance from the Mexicans massed in the fortified city of Vera Cruz, and by nightfall the last of Scott’s 10,000 men came ashore without the loss of a single life. It was the largest amphibious landing in U.S. history and not surpassed until World War II. By March 29, with very few casualties, Scott’s forces had taken Vera Cruz and its massive fortress, San Juan de Ulua. On September 14, Scott’s forces reached the Mexican capital.
In February 1848, representatives from the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, formally ending the Mexican War, recognizing Texas as part of the United States, and extending the boundaries of the United States west to the Pacific Ocean.
- Sep 14 1861 – Civil War: The first naval engagement of the Civil War took place as the USS Colorado attacked and sank the Confederate private schooner Judah off Pensacola, Florida.
- Sep 14 1862 – Civil War: At the battles of South Mountain and Crampton’s Gap, Maryland Union troops smash into the Confederates as they close in on what will become the Antietam battleground.. Casualties and losses: US 2,325 – CSA 2,685.
- Sep 14 1916 – WW1: Seventh Battle of the Isonzo » Italian troops launch a short, concentrated attack on Austro-Hungarian positions on the Italian Front, near the Isonzo River. Though the Italians captured several mountain peaks, including the 7,723-foot Mount Cardinal in the Trentino, the Austrians managed to hold the line, and actual Italian advances were minimal, at a cost of heavy casualties.
- Sep 14 1939 – WW2: U-39 Sunk » U-boat 39 was ordered by the Kriegsmarine on 29 July 1936 as part of the re-armament program (Aufrüstung) in Germany, which was illegal under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Her keel was laid down on 2 June 1937, by DeSchiMAG AG Weser of Bremen, Germany. She was commissioned on 10 December 1938 with Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Glattes in command. Just 27 days after she began her first patrol, U-39 attempted to sink the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal by firing two torpedoes at her. Due to a technical defect the torpedoes exploded before reaching their target. The U-39 was immediately hunted down by three British destroyers and disabled with depth charges. After the crew managed to resurface with the then sinking submarine all members were captured during the evacuation. U-39 was the first German U-boat to be sunk in World War II.
- Sep 14 1943 – WW2: German troops abandon the Salerno front in Italy.
- Sep 14 1943 – WW2: Americans Launch Operation Stalemate » The U.S. 1st Marine Division lands on the island of Peleliu, one of the Palau Islands in the Pacific, as part of a larger operation to provide support for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was preparing to invade the Philippines. The cost in American lives would prove historic.
The Palaus, part of the Caroline Islands, were among the mandated islands taken from Germany and given to Japan as one of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles at the close of World War I. The U.S. military lacked familiarity with the islands, and Adm. William Halsey argued against Operation Stalemate, which included the Army invasion of Morotai in the Dutch East Indies, believing that MacArthur would meet minimal resistance in the Philippines, therefore making this operation unnecessary, especially given the risks involved.
Peleliu was subject to pre-invasion bombardment, but it proved of little consequence. The Japanese defenders of the island were buried too deep in the jungle, and the target intelligence given the Americans was faulty. Upon landing, the Marines met little immediate resistance—but that was a ploy. Shortly thereafter, Japanese machine guns opened fire, knocking out more than two dozen landing craft. Japanese tanks and troops followed, as the startled 1st and 5th Marine regiments fought for their lives. Jungle caves disgorged even more Japanese soldiers. Within one week of the invasion, the Marines lost 4,000 men. By the time it was all over, that number would surpass 9,000. The Japanese lost more than 13,000 men. Flamethrowers and bombs finally subdued the island for the Americans—but it all proved pointless. MacArthur invaded the Philippines without need of Army or Marine protection from either Peleliu or Morotai.
- Sep 14 1954 – Cold War: The Soviet Union detonated a 40-kiloton atomic test weapon.
- Sep 14 1965 – Vietnam War: ARVN paratroopers and several U.S. advisers parachute into the Ben Cat area, 20 miles north of Saigon. This was the first major parachute assault of the war by the South Vietnamese. Although they failed to make contact with the enemy, they achieved their goal of driving the Viet Cong away from Route 13 (running between Saigon and the Cambodian border) at least temporarily.
- Sep 14 1966 – Vietnam War: Operation Attleboro, designed as a training exercise for American troops, becomes a month-long struggle against the Viet Cong.
- Sep 14 1972 – Cold War: US Senate approves US-Soviet agreement to freeze major part of their offensive nuclear arsenals for five years.
- Sep 14 2007 – Cold War: Vladimir Putin rewrites the rules for Russia’s closely watched presidential succession and names his new prime minister, Viktor Zubkov.
- Sep 14 2013 – U.S.*Syria: A diplomatic breakthrough on securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile averts the threat of US military action.
- Sep 15 1776 – American Revolution: British forces capture Kip’s Bay Manhattan.
- Sep 15 1779 – American Revolution: French Capture British Ships » French Commander Charles Count d’Estaing captures two British frigates and two British supply ships in the Savannah River.
- Sep 15 1862 – Civil War: Confederates Capture Harpers Ferry » Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson captures Harpers Ferry, Virginia (present-day West Virginia), and some 12,000 Union soldiers as General Robert E. Lee’s army moves north into Maryland.
Harpers Ferry, Virginia
The Federal garrison inside Harpers Ferry was vulnerable to a Confederate attack after Lee’s invasion of Maryland in September. The strategic town on the Potomac River was cut off from the rest of the Union army. General George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, sent messages to Union General Dixon Miles, commander of the Harpers Ferry garrison, to hold the town at all costs. McClellan promised to send help, but he had to deal with the rest of the Confederate army.
Jackson rolled his artillery into place and began to shell the town on September 14. The Yankees were short on ammunition, and Miles offered little resistance before agreeing to surrender on the morning of September 15. As Miles’ aid, General Julius White, rode to Jackson to negotiate surrender terms, one Confederate cannon continued to fire. Miles was mortally wounded by the last shot fired at Harpers Ferry. The Yankees surrendered 73 artillery pieces, 13,000 rifles, and some 12,000 men at Harpers Ferry. It was the largest single Union surrender of the war. Casualties and losses: US 12,636 – CSA 28.
The fall of Harpers Ferry convinced Lee to change his plans. After suffering heavy losses on September 14 in Maryland at the Battle of South Mountain, to the northeast of Harpers Ferry, Lee had intended to gather his scattered troops and return to Virginia. Now, with Harpers Ferry secure, he summoned Jackson to join the rest of his force around Sharpsburg, Maryland. Two days later, on September 17, Lee and McClellan fought the Battle of Antietam.
- Sep 15 1914 – Vera Cruz Incident: U.S. Marines march out of Vera Cruz, Mexico.
- Sep 15 1914 – WWI: First trenches are Dug on the Western Front » In the wake of the Battle of the Marne—during which Allied troops halted the steady German push through Belgium and France that had proceeded over the first month of World War I—a conflict both sides had expected to be short and decisive turns longer and bloodier, as Allied and German forces begin digging the first trenches on the Western Front on September 15, 1914.
The trench system on the Western Front in World War I—fixed from the winter of 1914 to the spring of 1918—eventually stretched from the North Sea coast of Belgium southward through France, with a bulge outwards to contain the much-contested Ypres salient. Running in front of such French towns as Soissons, Reims, Verdun, St. Mihiel and Nancy, the system finally reached its southernmost point in Alsace, at the Swiss border. In total the trenches built during World War I, laid end-to-end, would stretch some 35,000 miles—12,000 of those miles occupied by the Allies, and the rest by the Central Powers.
As historian Paul Fussell describes it, there were usually three lines of trenches: a front-line trench located 50 yards to a mile from its enemy counterpart, guarded by tangled lines of barbed wire; a support trench line several hundred yards back; and a reserve line several hundred yards behind that. A well-built trench did not run straight for any distance, as that would invite the danger of enfilade, or sweeping fire, along a long stretch of the line; instead it zigzagged every few yards. There were three different types of trenches: firing trenches, lined on the side facing the enemy by steps where defending soldiers would stand to fire machine guns and throw grenades at the advancing offense; communication trenches; and “saps,” shallower positions that extended into no-man’s-land and afforded spots for observation posts, grenade-throwing and machine gun-firing.
While war in the trenches during World War I is described in horrific, apocalyptic terms—the mud, the stench of rotting bodies, the enormous rats—the reality was that the trench system protected the soldiers to a large extent from the worst effects of modern firepower, used for the first time during that conflict. The greatest danger came during the periods when the war became more mobile, when the soldiers on either side left the trenches to go on the offensive. German losses per month peaked when they went on the attack: in 1914 in Belgium and France, 1915 on the Eastern Front, and 1918 again in the west; for the French, casualties peaked in September 1914, when they risked everything to halt the German advance at the Marne.
Trench warfare redefined battle in the modern age, making artillery into the key weapon. Thus the fundamental challenge on both sides of the line became how to produce enough munitions, keep the troops supplied with these munitions and expend enough of them during an offensive to sufficiently damage the enemy lines before beginning an infantry advance.
- Sep 15 1916 – WWI: Tanks Introduced into Warfare at the Somme » During the Battle of the Somme, the British launch a major offensive against the Germans, employing tanks for the first time in history. At Flers Courcelette, some of the 40 or so primitive tanks advanced over a mile into enemy lines but were too slow to hold their positions during the German counterattack and subject to mechanical breakdown. However, General Douglas Haig, commander of Allied forces at the Somme, saw the promise of this new instrument of war and ordered the war department to produce hundreds more.
On 1 JUL, the British launched a massive offensive against German forces in the Somme River region of France. During the preceding week, 250,000 Allied shells had pounded German positions near the Somme, and 100,000 British soldiers poured out of their trenches and into no-man’s-land on July 1, expecting to find the way cleared for them. However, scores of heavy German machine guns had survived the artillery onslaught, and the infantry were massacred. By the end of the day, 20,000 British soldiers were dead and 40,000 wounded. It was the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history.
After the initial disaster, Haig resigned himself to smaller but equally ineffectual advances, and more than 1,000 Allied lives were extinguished for every 100 yards gained on the Germans. Even Britain’s 15 SEP introduction of tanks into warfare for the first time in history failed to break the deadlock in the Battle of the Somme. In October, heavy rains turned the battlefield into a sea of mud, and on November 18 Haig called off the Somme offensive after more than four months of mass slaughter.
Except for its effect of diverting German troops from the Battle of Verdun, the offensive was a miserable disaster. It amounted to a total advance of just five miles for the Allies, with more than 600,000 British and French soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in action. German casualties were more than 650,000. Although Haig was severely criticized for the costly battle, his willingness to commit massive amounts of men and resources to the stalemate along the western front did eventually contribute to the collapse of an exhausted Germany in 1918.
- Sep 15 1935 – Pre WW2: Nuremberg Race Laws Imposed » German Jews are stripped of their citizenship, reducing them to mere “subjects” of the state.
After Hitler’s accession to the offices of president and chancellor of Germany, he set about the task of remaking his adopted country (Hitler had to pull some strings even to be eligible for office, as he was Austrian by birth) into the dream state he imagined. But his dream was soon to become a nightmare for many. Early on in his reign, the lives of non-Jewish German citizens were barely disrupted. But not so for Hitler’s “enemies.” Hitler’s racist ideology, which elevated those of “pure-blooded” German stock to the level of “masters” of the earth, began working itself out in vicious ways.
Within the first year of Hitler’s rule, German Jews were excluded from a host of high-profile vocations, from public office to journalism, radio, theater, film, and teaching-even farming. The professions of law and medicine were also withdrawn slowly as opportunities. “Jews Not Welcome” signs could be seen on shop and hotel windows, beer gardens, and other public arenas. With the Nuremberg Laws, these discriminatory acts became embedded in the culture by fiat, making them even more far-reaching. Jews were forbidden to marry “Aryans” or engage in extramarital relations with them. Jews could not employ female Aryan servants if they were less than 35 years of age. Jews found it difficult even to buy food, as groceries, bakeries, and dairies would not admit Jewish customers. Even pharmacies refused to sell them medicines or drugs.
What was the outside world’s reaction? Because unemployment had dropped precipitously under Hitler’s early commandeering of the economy, and the average German felt renewed hope and pride, the face of Germany seemed brighter, more at peace with itself. While some foreign visitors, even some political opponents within Germany itself, decried these racist laws and practices, most were beguiled into thinking it was merely a phase, and that Hitler, in the words of former British Prime Minister Lloyd George, was “a great man.”
- Sep 15 1940 – WW2: Tide Turns in the Battle of Britain » The Battle of Britain reaches its climax when the Royal Air Force (RAF) downs 56 invading German aircraft in two dogfights lasting less than an hour. The costly raid convinced the German high command that the Luftwaffe could not achieve air supremacy over Britain, and the next day daylight attacks were replaced with nighttime sorties as a concession of defeat. On September 19, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler postponed indefinitely “Operation Sea Lion”–the amphibious invasion of Britain. Although heavy German aid raids on London and other British cities would continue through spring 1941, the Battle of Britain was effectively won.
In May and June 1940, Holland, Belgium, Norway, and France fell one by one to the German Wehrmacht, leaving Great Britain alone in its resistance against Hitler’s plans for Nazi world domination. The British Expeditionary Force escaped the continent with an impromptu evacuation from Dunkirk, but they left behind the tanks and artillery needed to defend their homeland against invasion. With British air and land forces outnumbered by their German counterparts, and U.S. aid not yet begun, it seemed certain that Britain would soon follow the fate of France. However, Winston Churchill, the new British prime minister, promised his nation and the world that Britain would “never surrender,” and the British people mobilized behind their defiant leader.
On 5 JUN, the Luftwaffe began attacks on English Channel ports and convoys, and on June 30 Germany seized control of the undefended Channel Islands. On 10 JUL–the first day of the Battle of Britain according to the RAF–the Luftwaffe intensified its bombing of British ports. Six days later, Hitler ordered the German army and navy to prepare for Operation Sea Lion. On 19 JUL, the German leader made a speech in Berlin in which he offered a conditional peace to the British government: Britain would keep its empire and be spared from invasion if its leaders accepted the German domination of the European continent. A simple radio message from Lord Halifax swept the proposal away.
Germany needed to master the skies over Britain if it was to safely transport its superior land forces across the 21-mile English Channel. On August 8, the Luftwaffe intensified its raids against the ports in an attempt to draw the British air fleet out into the open. Simultaneously, the Germans began bombing Britain’s sophisticated radar defense system and RAF fighter airfields. During August, as many as 1,500 German aircraft crossed the Channel daily, often blotting out the sun as they flew against their British targets. Despite the odds against them, the outnumbered RAF flyers successfully resisted the massive German air invasion, relying on radar technology, more maneuverable aircraft, and exceptional bravery. For every British plane shot down, two Luftwaffe warplanes were destroyed.
At the end of August, the RAF launched a retaliatory air raid against Berlin. Hitler was enraged and ordered the Luftwaffe to shift its attacks from RAF installations to London and other British cities. On 7 SEP, the Blitz against London began, and after a week of almost ceaseless attacks several areas of London were in flames and the royal palace, churches, and hospitals had all been hit. However, the concentration on London allowed the RAF to recuperate elsewhere, and on 15 SEP the RAF launched a vigorous counterattack.
Prime Minister Churchill was at the underground headquarters of the RAF at Uxbridge that day and watched as the English radar picked up swarms of German aircraft crossing over British soil. The British Spitfires and Hurricanes were sent up to intercept the German warplanes and met them in a crescendo of daring and death. When it appeared that the RAF’s resources were exhausted, Churchill turned to Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park and asked, “What other reserves have we?” Park replied, “There are none,” but then, fortunately, the German planes turned and went home.
Fifty-six German planes were shot down that day, though the number was inflated to 185 in British newspapers. Britain had lost 40 planes but denied the Luftwaffe air supremacy. There would be no German invasion of Britain. The Battle of Britain, however, continued. In October, Hitler ordered a massive bombing campaign against London and other cities to crush British morale and force an armistice. Despite significant loss of life and tremendous material damage to Britain’s cities, the country’s resolve remained unbroken. In May 1941, the air raids essentially ceased as German forces massed near the border of the USSR.
By denying the Germans a quick victory, depriving them of forces to be used in their invasion of the USSR, and proving to America that increased arms support for Britain was not in vain, the outcome of the Battle of Britain greatly changed the course of World War II. As Churchill said of the RAF fliers during the Battle of Britain, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
- Sep 15 1942 – WW2: U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp is torpedoed at Guadalcanal.
- Sep 15 1944 – WW2: The 73 day Battle of Peleliu begins as the United States Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Division and the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry Division hit White and Orange beaches under heavy fire from Japanese infantry and artillery. Casualties and losses: US 9,804 – JP 10,897.
- Sep 15 1950 – Korean War: U.S. Forces Land at Inchon » During the Korean War, U.S. Marines land at Inchon on the west coast of Korea, 100 miles south of the 38th parallel and just 25 miles from Seoul. The location had been criticized as too risky, but U.N. Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur insisted on carrying out the landing. By the early evening, the Marines had overcome moderate resistance and secured Inchon. The brilliant landing cut the North Korean forces in two, and the U.S.-led U.N. force pushed inland to recapture Seoul, the South Korean capital that had fallen to the communists in June. Allied forces then converged from the north and the south, devastating the North Korean army and taking 125,000 enemy troops prisoner.
United Nations Fleet off Inchon, September 15, 1950.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when 90,000 North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel, catching the Republic of Korea’s forces completely off guard and throwing them into a hasty southern retreat. Two days later, U.S. President Harry Truman announced that the United States would intervene in the conflict, and on 28 JUN the United Nations approved the use of force against communist North Korea. On June 30, Truman agreed to send U.S. ground forces to Korea, and on 7 JUL the Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to Korea be put under U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all U.N. forces in Korea.
In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but Chinese communist troops entered the fray in October, throwing the Allies into a hasty retreat. In April 1951, Truman relieved MacArthur of his command after he publicly threatened to bomb China in defiance of Truman’s stated war policy. Truman feared that an escalation of fighting with China would draw the Soviet Union into the Korean War.
By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the battle line remained in that vicinity for the remainder of the war. On July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.
- Sep 15 1959 – Cold War: Khrushchev Arrives in Washington » Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet head of state to visit the United States. During the next two weeks, Khrushchev’s visit dominated the news and provided some dramatic and humorous moments in the history of the Cold War.
Khrushchev’s first day in America was mostly taken up with formal receptions and a motorcade from the airport to downtown Washington. At the airport, Khrushchev announced that he had arrived in America “with open heart and good intentions. The Soviet people want to live in friendship with the American people.” Groups of spectators and several military bands lined the way of the motorcade procession from the airport, and Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and Mme. Khrushchev sat together in the back of a convertible to wave at the crowds. Once in town, Khrushchev almost immediately sat for a nearly two-hour talk with Eisenhower and his advisers. Longer and more involved talks were scheduled for later in the Soviet leader’s visit. “Because of our importance in the world, it is vital that we understand each other better,” Eisenhower declared at a state dinner that night. Khrushchev agreed, adding that friendship was necessary “because our two countries are much too strong and we cannot quarrel with each other.”
During the next few days, Khrushchev took the opportunity to tour the United States before his summit meeting with Eisenhower. Although Khrushchev’s trip was more of a goodwill visit than an opportunity for significant negotiations, the tour provided some moments of high drama and low comedy, particularly during the Soviet leader’s trip through California.
- Sep 15 1962 – Cold War: The Soviet ship Poltava heads toward Cuba, one of the events that sets into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Sep 15 1964 – Vietnam War: The National Liberation Front (NLF), calls for a general military offensive to take advantage of the ‘disarray’ among the South Vietnamese, particularly after the abortive coup attempt against General Khanh’s government in Saigon on September 13 and 14.
- Sep 15 1972 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Forces Retake Quang Tri City » ARVN forces recapture Quang Tri City after four days of heavy fighting, with the claim that over 8,135 NVA had been killed in the battle.
Quang Tri City looking northeast, fall 1967: the Quang Tri Citadel is at the upper left with Tri Buu Village beyond
it; the Thach Han River is in the center
The North Vietnamese forces had launched a massive offensive, called the Nguyen Hue or “Easter Offensive,” on 31 MAR, with three main attacks aimed at Quang Tri south of the Demilitarized Zone, Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc just 60 miles north of Saigon. This invasion included 14 divisions and 26 separate regiments, a total force numbering over 120,000 troops, and was designed to knock South Vietnam out of the war and inflict a defeat on the remaining U.S. forces (which numbered less than 70,000 by this date due to President Nixon’s Vietnamization policy and the American troop withdrawal schedule). The North Vietnamese attack was characterized by conventional combined arms attacks by tank and infantry forces supported by massive artillery barrages, resulting in some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
The South Vietnamese forces and their American advisors supported by U.S. tactical airpower and B-52 bombers were able to hold at An Loc and Kontum despite being vastly outnumbered, but the South Vietnamese forces at Quang Tri faltered under the communist assault and were quickly overwhelmed. It was only after President Thieu fired the I Corps commander and replaced him with Major General Ngo Quang Truong, arguably one of the best officers in the South Vietnamese army, that the ARVN were able to stop the North Vietnamese. Truong took measures to stabilize the situation and the South Vietnamese began to fight back.
After a tremendously bloody four-and-a-half-month battle in which 977 South Vietnamese soldiers perished, Truong and his troops retook Quang Tri from the North Vietnamese, winning a major victory. President Nixon used this as proof positive that his Vietnamization policy had worked and that the South Vietnamese were prepared to take over responsibility for the war.
- Sep 15 2012 – U.S. Military: The 3rd Friday of every September is designated “National POW/MIA Recognition Day” by President Barack Obama Proclamation.