This month in WW2: January

This page gives a daily diary snapshot of January in WW2.


WW2 was a global conflict that raged from September 1939 to August 1945; almost six long years.

The change of seasons brought with it changes in the pace of the war. Spring generally meant new offensives, while winter could mean stalemate or a winter offensive - such as those made by the Russians on the eastern front, or the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardenne.

Battle of the Bulge: Men of the 4th Armoured Division, 3rd US Army, cross a snow covered field near Bastogne.

Battle of the Bulge: Following a break in the weather the German attack in the Ardennes region of Belguim was turned back in late December, early January 1944

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1 January 1945: Operation Bodenplatte, the last major Luftwaffe operation takes place against Allied airfields in France, Belgium and Holland

2 January 1942: Japanese occupy Manila

3 January 1941: Greek counteroffensive begins in Albania

4 January 1940: US President Roosevely asks congress for a defence budget of $1.8M

5 January 1941: Amy Johnson, the British aviator famous for flying single-handed from Britain to Australia dies on a flight across the River Thames in England

6 January 1943: German Grand Admiral Erich-Raeder resigns as Navy Commander-in-Chief following his disastrous handling of the Battle of the Barents Sea

7 January 1941: British forces capture Tobruk airport

8 January 1940: The Finns claim the destruction of a Russian division near Suommulsami, Finland

9 January 1940: The West Prussian SS commander reports the successful ‘elimination’ of 4000 incurable mental patients in Poland

10 January 1941: Lend-Lease Bill introduced in the US Congress

11 January 1943: Red Army launches an offensive against the Germans in the Leningrad area

12 January 1944: US forces capture Cervaro and push towards Cassino, Italy

13 January 1940: Belgium mobilises its forces while the Nederlands cancels all army leave as both conutries are put on alert for a German attack

14 January 1943: Japanese trrops land at Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal to prepare evacuation beaches

15 January 1945: US First and Third Armies link up at Houffalize in the Ardennes, Belgium

16 January 1944: Eisenhower appointed Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces

17 January 1945: Warsaw is liberated by Polish troops attached to the Red Army

18 January 1943: The Pz VI Tiger 1 is used for the first time by the Germans, in Tunisia

19 January 1942: Japanese troops enter Burma

20 January 1940: The US protests to Britain over the detention of its ships in Gibraltar

21 January 1941: British and Australian troops break through the German defences of Tobruk, N.Africa

22 January 1944: Allied troops land at Anzio in an attempt to outflank the Gustav Line in Italy but fail to seize the initiative and push inland

23 January 1943: Casablanca Conference ends with Roosevelt declaring that the Allies aim is ‘unconditional surrender’ of Axis forces. British 8th Army moves into Tripoli, Libya.

24 January 1941: One of the first tank battle takes place in N.Africa, with the British 4th Armoured Division pushing back Italian forces

25 January 1942: Thailand declares war on Britain and the US

26 January 1942: Greeted by Sir Archibald Sinclair, Britain’s minister for air, the first US ground troops deployed to Europe since the end of WW1 arrived in N.Ireland

27 January 1943: US 8th Airforce makes its first attack on Germany, attacking Wilhelmshaven

28 January 1942: General Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corps enters Benghazi

29 January 1944: A glider-bomb sinks the British cruiser HMS Spartan

30 January 1942: British troops withdraw from Malaya across the Jehore Causeway into Singapore

31 January 1941: German staff officers complete the plans for Operation Barbarossa; the invasion of Russia