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This Week in World War II: 75 Years Ago

Gebirgsjäger troops during World War II. For more information, go to: and click to enlarge.

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

In the U.S. on September 4, 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers creates the Manhattan Engineering District, marking the beginning of a full-scale effort by the U.S. to produce a nuclear weapon. In the Soviet Union, the Luftwaffe mounts a raid on the city of Stalingrad, utilizing over 1,000 aircraft. To the south of the city, German forces reach the Volga River. In Hungary, Soviet planes bomb Budapest for the first time.

Australian and U.S. forces defeat the Japanese at Milne Bay, Papua-New Guinea, on September 5. It is the first outright defeat of Japanese land forces in the Pacific War. The resulting Japanese evacuation and failure to establish an airbase there, eases the threat to Australia of a Japanese invasion.

In North Africa, Rommel’s forces on September 6 are back to the positions they held on August 31, having lost 51 tanks (out of 515), 70 guns, 400 trucks and 2,865 men. British Eighth Army’s losses are 1,640 men and 68 tanks. The 4th Gebirgsjäger Division of the German 17th Army captures the Black Sea naval base of Novorossiysk, in the Caucasus, while just to the north, six Axis divisions cross the Straits of Kerch from the Crimea to Taman. In the center of Stalingrad, heavy house-to-house fighting continues.

In Canada, on September 7, German sub U-517 attacks the convoy QS-33 in the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, sinking two Greek cargo ships and a Canadian collier. Seven sailors die and 78 are rescued, but lost are 16 tanks destined for Great Britain and almost 12,000 tons of general cargo. In the Solomon Islands, 600 U.S. Marine Corps Raiders attack the Japanese base at Taivu, damaging the facility and disrupting preparations for an attack on the main U.S. positions on Guadalcanal.

On September 8, 249 RAF bombers embark on a night raid targeting Frankfurt, Germany. Most of their bombs fall in the countryside about 15 miles southwest of the city. The British lose two of their aircraft. In Vichy France, Gen. Pierre Robert de Saint-Vincent, the military governor of Lyon, is removed from office for refusing to aid in the arrest of Jewish citizens in the area. In the U.S., the cartoon characters Pogo the ’Possum and Albert the Alligator, drawn by Walt Kelly, make their first appearance in Animal Comics, Issue #1.

A Japanese floatplane launched from an offshore submarine drops incendiary bombs over Oregon forests for a second time, on September 9. Again, little damage is caused. In Europe, Hitler sacks Field Marshal Wilhelm List and takes personal command of Army Group A, which — having been foiled by the Red Army in the western Caucasus — is meeting increased resistance in its drive towards Astrakhan and Baku. The British, fighting Vichy French forces in Madagascar, take control of the Mozambique Channel that separates the island from the African mainland. On Guadalcanal, Japanese troops land at Tassafaronga.

In the north of Russia, Red Army units attacking from besieged Leningrad on September 10 fail to break the lines of German Army Group North. (The city has been under siege since September 8, 1941.) In the U.S., German submarine U-69 lays 12 mines in Chesapeake Bay. In the Aleutian Islands, U.S. planes bomb Japanese troops on Kiska Island, Alaska.

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