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Jamuary 31, 1945

Wednesday, 31 January 1945

  The Atomic Bombs
  Hanford, Washington: The first weapon-grade plutonium is ready for shipment. After a month and a half of refining, the first batch of plutonium produced at Hanford was ready for transport to the Los Alamos testing site. It took three days to arrive in New Mexico where it was then tested by Oppenheimer and other physicists at the lab.

The first congress of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Revolution opens

2nd Byelorussian Front battering German 4th Army
1st Byelorussian Front besieging Posen, capturing Zehden, and attacking around Kustrin and Kienitz. Forces of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front reach the Oder River at Zehden and along a wide front to the south of Frankfurt am Oder. These Soviet positions are less than 50 miles from Berlin.
2nd Ukrainian Front remains engaged around Budapest

Die Regierungen der UdSSR und Finnlands unterzeichnen in Moskau ein Handelsabkommen, das den Tausch von sowjetischem Getreide, Zucker und Teigwaren gegen kriegswichtige finnische Metalle und Erze vorsieht.

The Czechoslovakian government in exile of Edvard Benes in London recognizes the Polish Lublin Committe as the Provisional Government of Poland.

Germany With Soviet forces drawing nearer, von Braun and the remaining research and development staff at Peenemunde ordered to begin evacuating to central Germany
Gollob replaces Galland as General der Jagdflieger.
Sepp Dietrich’s 6th Panzer Army redesignated 6th SS Panzer Army
Halder, already imprisoned, formally dismissed from German Army

Malta Argonaut: US and British political and military leaders meet at the Malta conference. Harry Hopkins arrives for conferences

There were severe manpower problems and also problems with desertion and self-inflicted wounds in the theater.
U.S. Army private Edward D. Slovik No. 36896415 was executed for desertion: Slovik was a draftee arrived in France in August 1944 and deserted a few days later. After returning to his unit, he deserted again and refused to return to service. Slovik was the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War. Influenced by the high rate of desertion among U.S. soldiers, General Eisenhower had denied clemency for the young private.
D’Este writes that the execution was publicized in the 28th Infantry Division but not in other units
Shortly after this Eisenhower commuted the sentences of two other soldiers who had been convicted of desertion.

RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force conducts limited operations. US 9th Air Force aircraft grounded by poor weather conditions

US 9th Army captures Kesternich and Imgenbroich and makes contact with US 1st Army at Widdau

US 1st Army attacking around Monschau Forest, Rocherath, Buchholz Forest, and Neuhof and makes contact with US 9th Army at Widdau. Units of US 18th Corps from US 1st Army enter Germany east of St. VIth as they continue their advance from the Ardennes.
US 3rd Army captures Andler, Schonberg, Amelscheid, Heuem, Alzerath, Laudesfeld, Elcherath, Weppler, Auel, and Heckhalenfeld. US 4th Infantry division occupies Elcherrath

US 7th Army opens attacks around Oberhoffen and Drusenheim

French 1st Army attacking around Horbourg, Durrentzen, Beltenzenheim, and the outskirts of Colmar. In Alsace, French 1st Army attacks near Colmar also make some ground.

Convoy MKS 80 departs Gibraltar for Liverpool. Convoy SC 166 departs Halifax for Liverpool

Baltic Sea German hospital ship Berlin sunk by mine during refugee evacuation operations. Am 30.1. ebenso wie das Lazarettschiff Berlin (15.286 BRT, Verwundete kurz zuvor an Land gegeben und auf dem Rückmarsch nach Pillau, nur 1 Toter) am 31.1. vor Swinemünde.
M-382 (Kriegsmarine): The minesweeper struck a mine and sank off Kristiansund, Norway, or was torpedoed and sunk by HNoMS MTB 715 (Royal Norwegian Navy) off Molde.
Baltic Sea German vessel Memel sunk by mine during refugee evacuation operations with 600 people lost
Das ebenfalls auf dem Rückmarsch befindliche U 745 geht wahrscheinlich am 31.1. durch einen Minentreffer im Finnenbusen verloren.
U-3520 (Kriegsmarine): The Type XXI submarine struck a mine and sank in the Baltic Sea off the Bülk Lighthouse, Schleswig-Holstein (54°28′N 10°12′E) with the loss of all 85 crew. U-3520, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Sarto Ballert hit a mine and sank in the Baltic Sea northeast of Bülk, Germany.

U-927 sailed from Kristiansand on her first and final patrol.
5 ships sunk by U-boat U-1232 off Halifax during January.
U-3525 was commissioned. Her first commander was Kapitänleutnant Hans-Ludwig Gaude
U-3037 launched.

US 15th Air Force attacks Vienna and Graz, Maribor
Mission No. 166 31 January 1945 Target: Moosbierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria
Major Baker led the Blue Force. His three flight formation dropped its bombs by the pathfinder method with unobserved results. A graph showing the comparative standings in bombing accuracy of the 21 Groups in the Air Force is not available for January. The Group, however, rated 10th, with an average score of 33.2.

US 12th Air Force aircraft attack transportation lines and other targets throughout northern Italy

Fourteen V-2 rocket launches against uncertain targets
15 V-2 rocket launches (one failure) Batt. 3./485, 1., 3./836. Impact: unknown


HF: Not quite so cold. Thin clammy fog. Wakened by the sound of men clearing snow.

This afternoon rain came on, a thin drizzle.

Back to the office tonight. A dance in St Peter’s Church Hall, a lot of noise of jazz on loud-speakers. Soon after 7, eight or nine cars drove into the Square and parked there, while the occupants went into the dance. Seems to be no check here on the use of cars for pleasure.

The Duke of Gloucester became the Governor-General of Australia, an appointment designed to ensure that Australia did not become a dependency of the United States.

Daietsu Maru (Japan): Convoy HI-88B: The tanker (A.K.A. Taietsu Maru) was torpedoed and damaged in the South China Sea south east of Quang Ngai, French Indochina(14°56′N 109°00′E) by USS Boarfish () and beached on the coast to prevent sinking. Bombed and destroyed the next day by 14th Air Force B-24s. 2 Gunners and 7 crewmen killed.
Enki Maru (Japan): Convoy HI-88B: The tanker was torpedoed and sunk in the South China Sea south east of Quang Ngai, French Indochina (14°56′N 109°00′E) by USS Boarfish. 21 passengers and 1 crewman killed. Survivors rescued by Nomi (IJN).
USS Boarfish (SS 327), commanded by Commander Royce L. Gross, torpedoed (1 of 2 torpedoes hit) and sank the 6,968 ton Japanese tanker Enki Maru and (1 of 2 torpedoes hit) the 6,890 ton Japanese army cargo ship Daietsu Maru southeast of Tourane, French Indochina.

Japanese small cargo vessel No.4 Kiri Maru was sunk by a mine off Cape Tavoy, Burma.
USS Pargo (SS 264), commanded by Lt. Commander David B. Bell, torpedoed and damaged the frigate IJN Manju in the South China Sea of the French Indochina.
USS PC-1129: The PC-461-class submarine chaser was sunk in the South China Sea off Luzon, Philippines by a Japanese Shinyo suicide boat. Japanese assault demolition boats attacked the screen off Nasugbu and sink submarine chaser PC-1129, the flagship for the control unit of U.S. Navy Task Unit 78.2.7. Submarine chaser PC-1129 intercepted Japanese Shinyo special attack boats in the Philippine Islands, but she was in turn rammed by one of the boats and was sunk.
Motor torpedo boat PT-338, irreparably damaged by grounding (see 27 January) is destroyed by demolition squad off Semimara Island Luzon, 12°06’N, 121°23’E.
Ro-115 (IJN): The Ro-100-class submarine was depth charged and sunk in the South China Sea west of Mindoro (13°20′N 119°20′E) by USS Bell, USS Cavalier, USS O’Bannon and USS Ulvert M. Moore. Lost with all 59 hands.
Ume (IJN): The Matsu-class destroyer was sunk 20 miles south of Formosa (22°30′N 122°00′E) by US Army B-25s and P-38s . 77 crew killed and 36 wounded. B-25 Mitchells from the Far Eastern Air Force sank the DE IJN Ume and damaged the destroyer IJN Shiokaze and DE IJN Kaede west of Takao, Formosa.
Spadefish (SS-411) unsuccessfully attacks Japanese ship Nanshin Maru in Yellow Sea west of Ch’uja Kundo, Korea, 34°14’N, 122°36’E.
Shalimar am 31.1. beschädigt es einen Routendampfer.
Tantalus (LtCdr. Mackenzie) versenkt am 31.1. einen Logger.
Damaged Alden (DD-211) Near Norfolk in collision USS Hayter (APD-80)
B-29 Superfortress sink giant floating dock at Singapore.

China Hunan-Kwangtung-Kiangsi operations: 27th Infantry Division of Japanese 20th Army captures Suichuan
US 14th Air Force fighters attack targets of opportunity around Pinghan

Volcano Islands US 7th Air Force attacks Iwo Jima with 30 B-24 bombers

Burma British 14th Army attacking around Sagaing. Japanese Matsu Detachment counterattacking Indian 15th Corps around Kangaw
The whole Burma Road is now opened as the Ledo Road linkage with India is complete.
US 10th Air Force attacks Namlan with 12 bombers, attacks Japanese positions and supply dumps around Na-mawtawng, Tawkut, Mong Long, Hsipaw, Hsenwi, and Namhpakka with 50 fighters

Formosa US FEAF attacks airfields and other targets. IJN destroyer Shiokaze and destroyer escort Kaede damaged by US FEAF aircraft
Operation „Mike VI“: Die Amphibious Group 8 (RAdm. Fechteler) landet am 31.1. die 11. Luftlande-Div. (Maj.Gen. Swing) auf 4 APD, 35 LCI, 8 LSM, gesichert von 6 Zerstörern (Desron 5) und 3 Geleitzerstörern bei Nasugbu, südwestlich der Manila-Bucht. Feuerunterstützung durch Task Group 74.2 (RAdm. Riggs) mit Kreuzer Denver und den Zerstörern Claxton und Dyson. Am 31.1. wird das jap. U-Boot Ro-115 in der Nähe der Ferndeckungsgruppe Task Group 74.3 gesichtet und durch die US-Zerstörer O’Bannon, Jenkins, Bell und DE Ulvert M. Moore versenkt. Bei einem Sprengboot-Angriff wird der US U-Jäger PC 1129 versenkt. Zerstörer Claxton und DE Lough wehren weitere Angriffe ab. Lough und Zerstörer Conyngham versenken am 1.2. irrtümlich die beiden US Schnellboote PT 77 und PT 79.

Operation Mike 6: USN Task Group 78.2 lands US 11th Airborne Division south of Manila Bay near Nasugbu on Luzon. USN Task Group 77.4 covers landing of US 11th Airborne Division. 187th Infantry Regiment and 188th Glider Infantry Regiment of 11th Airborne Division of US 8th Army push to Wawa and Lian south of ManilaOn Luzon, two regiments of General Swing’s 11th Airborne Division are landed by sea near Nasugbu south-west of Manila. Admiral Fechteler leads the naval support with a cruiser and eight destroyers. There is little opposition to the landing.

U.S. Navy Task Group 78.2 (Rear Admiral William M. Fechteler) landed Army troops (two Regimental Combat Teams of the 11th Airborne Division (1st Battalion and the 188th Glider of the Infantry of the Airborne Division) at Nasugbu, south of the entrance to Manila Bay in Operation Mike Six. A third RCT of the 11th Airborne is airdropped at Tagtaytay Ridge, 14 miles inland. This operation, designed to outflank the enemy forces defending Manila, meets little resistance at the outset. Lt. General Robert L. Eichelberger, Commander of the U.S. 8th Army commented that the reconnaissance-in-force on the west coast of Luzon south of Manila was “successful beyond expectation.”
North of Manila, the US advance is still making progress. US 14th Corps units have nearly reached Calumpit in a converging attack.
Clark Field, a key airbase 50 miles north of the Philippines capital, was recaptured today by XIV Corps. The fierce seven-day battle for Clark Field’s cave and tunnel complex ended with survivors of the 30,000-man Kembu Group retreating further into the Zambales Mountains. General Yamashita, the Japanese Philippines C-in-C is fighting similar delaying actions in the north-east with his 150,000-man Shobu Group, hoping to prevent Luzon from becoming the launching pad for an attack on Japan.

Detachment of US 8th Army completes clearing of Poro Island in the Camotes Islands
US FEAF aircraft attack Cavite naval base on Luzon

The corvette HMS Farnham Castle (K 413) was commissioned. Her first commander was Lt. William E. Warwick.

In der Hauptstadt Washington fordert die Regierung der Vereinigten Staaten die Bevölkerung auf, mindestens 25 Millionen Tonnen Kohle pro Jahr einzusparen, da die Kohlevorräte der USA unter der „Sicherheitsgrenze“ lägen und der Bedarf an Brennstoffen ständig steige.

USS Wake Island completed her repairs at Ulithi, Caroline Islands.

The US Navy expanded the piston-jet mix-powered fighter contract with Ryan Aeronautical to 700 examples. 
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