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This Week in World War II: 75 Years Ago

The random violence against the Neapolitans in the ensuing days of the attacks on Naples in World WAR II and the chaos and uncertainty of the power structure was met with fear and desperation. So much so, that the Italian military generals, Riccardo Pentimalli and Ettore Del Tetto, who were responsible for protecting Napoli, abandoned it, fleeing in civilian clothing (they were later sentenced to 20 years in prison). The city, left unprotected, was now the target of the retreating military determined to follow orders and destroy it. FROM NAPOLI UNPLUGGED. More information at this link:

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

The U.S. Army Air Forces launches its first attack against Italy on December 4, 1942, as 20 B-24 bombers raid the port of Naples; two cruisers are sunk and the harbor is damaged. In the U.S., President Roosevelt receives a petition from 244 Congressmen in support of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

In Papua-New Guinea, strong attacks at Buna by U.S. troops are bloodily repulsed by the Japanese on December 5. Malaria and heat prostration are taking a heavy toll on the Americans. In the U.S., President Roosevelt, to solve lingering manpower problems on the home front, suspends the drafting of men 38 years of age and older into the military. He gives responsibility for balancing the labor needs of agriculture, industry and the military to the War Manpower Commission (established in April 1942).

On December 6 in Africa, two German tank columns try to retake Medjez el Bab, about 35 miles southwest of Tunis. They are repelled by a combination of Allied armored units, artillery and aircraft. In Europe, 93 RAF aircraft make a daylight attack on Eindhoven, the Netherlands, targeting the Philips Radio Works.

On December 7 — the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — the USS New Jersey, America’s largest battleship, is launched. (It is commissioned five months later.) Eleven other naval vessels are also launched on this date. A daring raid is made by 13 British commandos on the harbor of Bordeaux, France. They row 50 miles up the River Gironde in canoes and attach limpet mines to German shipping, sinking four vessels and irreparably damaging two others. Six of the raiders are captured and executed per Hitler’s Commando Order; two others die of hypothermia.

U.S. troops establish a beachhead south of Buna in Papua-New Guinea on December 8, cutting off Japanese forces there. In Tunisia, German forces take the port city of Bizerte, capturing sixteen French vessels: four destroyers, nine submarines and three other warships.

The Marines turn responsibility for Guadalcanal over to the U.S. Army on December 9, with Gen. Alexander Patch of the Army’s XIV Corps relieving Gen. Alexander Vandegrift of the 1st Marine Division as Commander, Operations, Guadalcanal. The Australians capture Gona, Papua-New Guinea, from the Japanese.

As of December 10, Australian troops control the entire Gona area in Papua-New Guinea. In North Africa, German tanks and infantry troops again attack at Medjez el Bab, Tunisia, but are repulsed by the Allies.

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