Sunday, April 14, 2019

January 8, 1942: Hitler Sacks Hoepner

Thursday 8 January 1942

Tommy Gun in training, 8 January 1942
"17-year-old Cecil Appleby from Queen Mary's School in Walsall learns to handle a 'Tommy gun' during a visit to a Junior Leaders school in Eastern Command, 8 January 1942." That is a Thompson submachine gun, and the unit appears to be the South Staffordshire. © IWM (H 16501).
Eastern Front: Adolf Hitler has forbidden any large-scale withdrawals on the Eastern Front despite the intense Red Army pressure around Moscow, and on 8 January 1942 he emphasizes this once again. Colonel-general (Generaloberst) Erich Hoepner, commander of Fourth Panzer Group, has been refusing orders to transfer units to other armies and requesting permission to withdraw for days. After asking Army Group Center commander Field Marshal Guenther von Kluge for permission to withdraw once again, Kluge promises him to discuss the matter with Hitler and prepare his troops for the withdrawal. Hoepner decides not to wait and orders the withdrawal anyway. Kluge, who has developed a practice of reporting such unauthorized withdrawals to Hitler (getting General Guderian dismissed for a similar incident), quickly tells Hitler of the withdrawal. Hitler not only fires Hoepner, but he also deprives the unfortunate general of his pension and right to wear his medals and uniform.

U.S. Navy Curtiss SNC-1 Falcon trainer, 8 January 1942
A U.S. Navy Curtiss SNC-1 Falcon trainer (BuNo 6294) at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida (USA), on 8 January 1942. This plane is used for intermediate instruction and is powered by a 420 horsepower Wright R-974 engine. U.S. Navy Naval Air Station Jacksonville website.
The Soviet General Offensive is putting pressure on the Germans from south of Moscow to Leningrad. A German counterattack by the SS Cavalry Brigade (under the command of the ambitious SS-Obersturmbannführer of the ReservesHermann Fegelein) and VI Corps at Rzhev fizzles during the day. This leaves Rzhev, a critical railhead which supplies the entire region, in jeopardy. At Lake Ilmen north of Moscow, the Soviets have two divisions across the frozen lake which now are advancing south behind the German lines. The German high command actually breathes a sigh of relief at this, because there is nothing significant to the south while there is a critically important German supply base at Staraya Russa just to the north. A little further north, Soviet 2nd Shock Army continues advancing against German 18th Army. However, it also has no nearby objectives of any significance unless other Red Army units also make long advances that so far show no signs of materializing.

Dutch freighter SS Van Rees, sunk on 8 January 1942
Japanese submarine I-56 sinks two Dutch ships on 8 January 1942. One is 3000-ton Dutch freighter SS Van Rees in the Java Sea about 80 nautical miles (150 km) south of Tjilapjap, Dutch East Indies.
Battle of the Pacific: A convoy of ships that sailed on 27 December 1941 from San Francisco arrives in Pearl Harbor on 8 January. The ships carry reinforcements for the Hawaiian Islands, and there are more scheduled to come in a couple of weeks. The Japanese actually have no plans to invade the Hawaiian Islands, but the Americans don't know this and are in no mood to take any chances.

Dutch passenger vessel Van Riebeek, sunk on 8 January 1942
I-56 uses its deck gun on 8 January 1942 to sink 2263-ton Dutch passenger vessel Van Riebeek in the Indian Ocean south of Tjilatjap.
At Singapore, General Archibald Wavell, who among his other titles is Commander in Chief of the new American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command, visits the Malayan front. The Japanese have just scored a dramatic breakthrough at the Slim River north of Kuala Lumpur, and little now stands between them and the Malaysian capital. Indian III Corps already is in full retreat and heading toward Johore just north of Singapore. With the front in tatters, the British order the Australian 8th Division (minus the 22nd Brigade Group) into northwestern Johore. The Japanese are not yet in Kuala Lumpur, but they are driving hard for the British line at Gegamat-Mount Ophir-Muar.

Japanese troops take Jesselton, the capital of British North Borneo, after the British abandon it. The British also lose Beaufort, British North Borneo. The British have very few troops in the region and they have fled into the jungle.

British freighter Glengyle at Malta, 8 January 1942
The British Merchantman GLENGYLE, entering the harbor." Grand Harbor, Valletta, Malta, 8 January 1942. © IWM (A 7272).
Battle of the Mediterranean: On the main front, Axis troops complete a quiet retreat from El Agheila to Agedabia. Further east, well behind Allied lines, a trapped force of Italian troops wave a white flag at Halfaya Pass. It turns out that the Italians are not surrendering, but instead offering the Allies a chance to have their own wounded and captured troops. The South African troops surrounding the Italians accept the offer, and Italian troops bring out five wounded British airmen from a bomber that had crashed. In gratitude for saving the Allied airmen, the South African troops allow the Italian medical troops who brought out the airmen to return to their side with medical supplies.

While events on the ground having quieted down since the end of Operation Crusader, the air war in North Africa remains very intense. RAAF No. 3 Squadron flying P-40 Kittyhawk fighters intercept a large force of 35 Italian and 8 Luftwaffe planes heading to attack British troops southeast of Agedabia and a huge air battle ensues. The Australian pilots lose one Kittyhawk but claim to shoot down seven Axis planes with another four probably shot down.

Young soldier entering the Royal Navy band, 8 January 1942
A 14-year-old boy joins the Royal Marines Band at Scarborough on 8 January 1942. "With other young recruits, he chooses the instrument he wants to play. Reginald, on the extreme right, made the choice of the Euphonium."  © IWM (A 6995).
US Military: With US Army V Corps having been activated in Great Britain on 6 January, the Pentagon appoints a new overall commander for the large forces expected to join them. He is U.S. Major General James E Chaney, currently the Chief, Special Observer Group, US Army (SPOBS). General Chaney's new addition title is Commanding General US Army Forces in the British Isles (USAFBI).

Adam Kopyciński is sent to Auschwitz on 8 January 1942
Adam Kopyciński arrives at Auschwitz. In May 1944, he becomes the conductor of the camp orchestra.
Holocaust: On 8 January 1942, 60 Poles, including four Jews, are deported from Cracow to Auschwitz from Montelupich Prison.

Canadian Homefront: Federal Minister Ian Mackenzie announces in Vancouver, British Columbia, that he will be taking action under the War Measures Act against all Japanese-Canadians. The Royal Mounted Canadian Police will register all such persons and eventually move them to inland detention centers as the United States is doing.

Stephen Hawking, born on 8 January 1942
Stephen Hawking at Oxford.
Future History: Stephen William Hawking is born in Oxford, England. After attending University College, Oxford, Hawking becomes a top expert in theoretical physicist and, among many other things, becomes the world's top expert on black hole dynamics. During his time at Oxford, Hawking began experiencing the first symptoms of motor neuron disease (MND; also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, "ALS," or Lou Gehrig's disease), and this gets progressively worse throughout his life until he is almost incapacitated. However, despite his physical issues, Hawking continues his research and continues at the forefront of his field throughout his life. Over time, Hawking develops a huge popular audience for his theories by publishing books and appearing in films and on television programs. Hawking passes away on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76

Winston Churchill's nurse gets married, 8 January 1942
Roger Miles, a surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy, marries Doris Clayton at St. Peter's Church, Vere Street, London, on 8 January 1942. Doris serves as Winston Churchill's personal nurse for a time during World War II (Jill Rose via RML).


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