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This Week in World War II: 75 Years Ago

Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, right, and other senior commanders of the Red Army. From left, Colonel-General armored forces, Hero of Soviet Union D.G. Pavlov; M.A. Purkayev; third – Army General, Hero of the Soviet Union, K.A. Meretskov; People’s Commissar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Hero of the Soviet Union S.K. Timoshenko. Source:

By: Phil Kohn. Dedicated to the memory of his father, GM3 Walter Kohn, U.S. Navy Armed Guard, USNR, and all men and women who have answered the country’s call in time of need. Phil can be contacted at

German forces capture the town of Rossosh, in Russia, on July 10, 1942, cutting the Moscow-Rostov rail line and establishing a bridgehead on the east bank of the River Don.

Rommel’s forces are stalemated before El Alamein on July 11, largely because of ammunition shortages. Allied convoy PQ-17 finally reaches Russia after losing 24 of its original 35 ships, the worst convoy loss of the war. Stalin voices his suspicion that the British have fabricated the losses to avoid delivering promised supplies to the U.S.S.R. RAF Lancaster bombers fly 1,750 miles — their farthest sortie of the war so far — to bomb German shipyards at Danzig.

Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov. Source: Wikipedia.

Stalin begins moving massive numbers of troops into the Stalingrad area on July 12. Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko is placed in overall command of the new Stalingrad Front. Soviet general Andrey Vlasov, who has been hiding in German-held territory since his force was defeated defending Leningrad on July 2, is betrayed by a local farmer and captured by the Germans. During captivity, he will switch sides and collaborate with the Nazis, proclaiming that Joseph Stalin is the greatest enemy of the Russian people.

On July 13, Hitler, judging the movement on Stalingrad as being too slow, relieves Field Marshal Fedor von Bock as commander of Army Group B, to be replaced by Gen. Maximilian von Weichs. Hitler assigns Colonel-General Friedrich von Paulus’s Sixth Army the operational objective of capturing Stalingrad.

The Vichy government on July 14 refuses a U.S. offer to move nine warships of the French fleet to an American, neutral or Martinique port to prevent their seizure by the Axis. A large crowd gathers illegally in Marseille, Vichy France, to celebrate the national holiday Bastille Day. Two women are shot by police trying to disperse the assemblage. A working committee of the Indian National Congress adopts a resolution demanding British withdrawal from India but denies any intention of embarrassing the Allied war effort.

On July 15, there is light skirmishing around El Alamein, Egypt. On Akutan, in the Aleutian Islands, a U.S. salvage crew recovers intact a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane that had crash-landed there. Extensive study of the still-airworthy plane allows aeronautical designers and strategists to devise ways to defeat the speedy, agile Zero, the primary — and formidable — fighter of the Imperial Japanese Navy. In Europe, the first 2,000 Jews are deported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz, in Poland, by German authorities.

On orders from the Vichy government, French police on July 16 and 17 arrest 13,152 Jews, including over 4,000 children. They are incarcerated under conditions of severe deprivation in an indoor bicycle velodrome stadium near the Eiffel Tower for several days, then shipped off to Auschwitz for extermination. In North Africa, the British XXX Corps captures a key ridge west of El Alamein, Egypt. In Washington, the government severs diplomatic relations with Finland.

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