DEFENSE OF THE GREAT WALL. Falling back from Rehe, Wan Fulin's 32nd Corps retreated to Lengkou Pass, while the 29th Corps of General Song Zheyuan also fell back, Zhang Zuoxiang's 37th Division retreated to Xifengkou Pass, General Guan Linzheng's 25th Division to the Gubeikou Pass.
On March 4, the 139th Division of the KMT 32nd Corps managed to hold Lengkou Pass, and on March 7, KMT 67th Corps withstood attacks by the 16th Brigade of the Japanese 8th Division, at Gubeikou Pass.
On March 9, Chiang Kai-shek discussed with Zhang Xueliang about resisting Japanese invasion in Baoding in Hebei Province. Chiang Kai-shek began to relocate his forces away from his campaign against the Jiangxi Soviet, which would include the forces of Huang Jie, Xu Tingyao and Guan Linzheng. Chiang Kai-shek also called over Fu Zuoyi's 7th Corps from Suiyuan. However, his actions were too late and the reinforcements were of insufficient strength to stop the Japanese advance.
On March 11, Japanese troops pushed up to the Great Wall itself. On March 12, Zhang Xueliang resigned his post to He Yingqin, who as the new leader of the Northeastern Army was assigned the duty of securing defensive positions along the Great Wall.
Over twenty close assaults were launched, with sword-armed
Northwestern Army soldiers repelling them. However on March
21, the Japanese took Yiyuankou Pass. The KMT 29th Corps
evacuated from Xifengkou Pass on April 8.
On April 11, Japanese troops retook Lengkou Pass after dozens
of seesaw fights over the pass defenses and Chinese forces at
Jielingkou abandoned that pass. The Chinese army was
significantly underarmed in comparison with the Japanese in
heavy weapons and many units were equipped only with trench
mortars, a few heavy machine guns, some light machine guns
and rifles, but mostly handguns, hand grenades, and traditional
Chinese swords. Beaten back by overwhelming Japanese
firepower, on May 20, the Chinese army retreated from their
remaining positions on the Great Wall.
Although the NRA suffered defeat in the end, several individual
NRA units like the He Zhuguo platoon managed to hold off the
better equipped Japanese army for up to 3 days before being
overrun. Some NRA Divisions also managed to win minor
victories in passes like Xifengkuo and Gubeikou by using the
ramparts to move soldiers from one sector to another in the Great Wall, just like the Ming dynasty soldiers before them.
OPERATION BODENPLATTE: The German
Luftwaffe makes a series of heavy attacks on Allied airfields
in Belgium, Holland and northern France. They have
assembled around 800 planes of all types for this effort by
deploying every available machine and pilot. Many of the
pilots have had so little training that they must fly special
formations with an experienced pilot in the lead providing the
navigation for the whole force. The Allies are surprised and
lose many aircraft on the ground. Among the German aircraft
losses for the day are a considerable number of planes shot
down by German anti-aircraft fire. Allied losses amount to
300 planes opposed to about 200 German aircraft shot down.
OPERATION NORDWIND. Operation North Wind (Unternehmen Nordwind) was the last major German offensive of the Second World War on the Western Front. It began on 1 January 1945 in Alsace and Lorraine in north-eastern France, and it ended on 25 January.
On 1 January 1945, German Army Group G (Heeresgruppe G) commanded by Colonel General (Generaloberst) Johannes Blaskowitz and Army Group Upper Rhine (Heeresgruppe Oberrhein) commanded by Heinrich Himmler launched a major offensive against the thinly stretched, 110 km line of the U.S. 7th Army.
Operation North Wind soon had the understrength U.S. 7th Army in dire straits. The 7th Army, at the orders of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, had sent troops, equipment, and supplies north to reinforce the American armies in the Ardennes involved in the "Battle of the Bulge."
On the same day that the German Army launched Operation North Wind, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) committed almost one-thousand aircraft in support. This attempt to cripple the Allied air forces based in northwestern Europe was known as Operation Baseplate (Unternehmen Bodenplatte).
The initial attack was conducted by three Corps of the German 1st Army of Army Group G, and by 9 January, the XXXIX Panzer Corps was heavily engaged as well. By 15 January, at least seventeen German divisions (including units in the Colmar Pocket) were engaged from Army Group G and Army Group Upper Rhine, including the 10th SS Panzer, 7th Parachute, 21st Panzer, and 25th Panzer Grenadier divisions. Another attack, smaller, was against the French positions south of Strasbourg but it was finally stopped.
U.S. VI Corps, which bore the brunt of the German attacks, was fighting on three sides by 13 January. With casualties mounting, and running severely short on replacements, tanks, ammunition, and supplies, Eisenhower, fearing the outright destruction of the U.S. 7th Army, rushed already battered divisions hurriedly relieved from the Ardennes, southeast over 100 km, to reinforce the 7th Army.
Their arrival was delayed, and the Americans were forced to withdraw to defensive positions on the south bank of the Moder River on 21 January. The German offensive finally drew to a close on 25 January, the same day that the reinforcements began to arrive from the Ardennes. Strasbourg was saved but the Colmar pocket was a danger which had to be eliminated.
“This attack has a very clear objective, namely the destruction of the enemy forces. There is not a matter of prestige involved here. It is a matter of destroying and exterminating the enemy forces wherever we find them. The question of liberating all of Alsace at this time is not involved either. That would be very nice, the impression on the German people would be immeasurable, the impression on the world decisive, terrific psychologically, the impression on the French people would be depressing. But that is not important. It is more important, as I said before, to destroy his manpower.”
— Adolf Hitler
CONFEDERATE VICTORY IN GALVESTON. Confederate warships under Major Leon Smith, CSA, defeated Union blockading forces at Galveston in a fierce surprise attack combined with an assault ashore by Confederate troops that resulted in the capture of the Northern Army company stationed there.
Smith's flotilla included the improvised cotton-clad gunboats C.S.S. Bayou City and Neptune, with Army sharpshooting boarding parties embarked, and tenders John F. Carr and Lucy Gwin. The Union squadron under Commander William B. Renshaw, U.S.S. Harriet Lane, Owasco, Corypheus, Sachem, Clifton, and Westfield, was caught off guard.
Despite the surprise, Harriet Lane,
Commander Jonathan M. Wainwright,
put up a gallant fight. She rammed
Bayou City, but without much damage.
In turn she was rammed by Neptune,
which was so damaged by the resulting
impact and a shot from Harriet Lane
taken at the waterline that she sank in
8 feet of water. Bayou City, meanwhile,
turned and rammed Harriet Lane so
heavily that the two ships could not be
The troops from the cotton-clad
clambered over the bulwarks to board
Harriet Lane. Commander Wainwright
was killed in the wild hand-to-hand combat and his ship was captured. In the meantime, Westfield, Commander Renshaw, had run aground in Bolivar Channel prior to the action, could not be gotten off, and was destroyed to prevent her capture.
Renshaw and a boat crew were killed when Westfield blew up prematurely. The small ships comprising the remainder of the blockading force ran through heavy Confederate fire from ashore and stood out to sea. Surprise and boldness in execution, as often in the long history of warfare, had won another victory.
The tribute paid by Major General John Bankhead Magruder, CSA, was well deserved. "The alacrity with which officers and men, all of them totally unacquainted with this novel kind of service, some of whom had never seen a ship before, volunteered for an enterprise so extraordinarily and apparently desperate in its character, and the bold and dashing manner in which the plan was executed, are certainly deserving of the highest praise."
Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
CHEEVER, BENJAMIN H., JR. Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Born: 7 June 1850, Washington, D.C. Date of issue. 25 April 1891. Citation: Headed the advance across White River partly frozen, in a spirited movement to the effective assistance of Troop K, 6th U.S. Cavalry.
HOWZE, ROBERT L. Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company K, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891. Entered service at: Overton, Rusk County, Tex. Born: 22 August 1864, Overton, Rusk County, Tex. Date of issue: 25 July 1891. Citation: Bravery in action.
KERR, JOHN B. Rank and organization: Captain, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891. Entered service at: Hutchison Station, Ky. Birth: Fayette County, Ky. Date of issue: 25 April 1891. Citation: For distinguished bravery while in command of his troop in action against hostile Sioux Indians on the north bank of the White River, near the mouth of Little Grass Creek, S. Dak., where he defeated a force of 300 Brule Sioux warriors, and turned the Sioux tribe, which was endeavoring to enter the Bad Lands, back into the Pine Ridge Agency.
KNIGHT, JOSEPH F. Rank and organization: Sergeant, Troop F, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891. Entered service at: - - - . Birth: Danville, 111. Date of issue: 1 May 1891. Citation: Led the advance in a spirited movement to the assistance of Troop K, 6th U.S. Cavalry.
MYERS, FRED Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company K, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 4 February 1891. Citation: With 5 men repelled a superior force of the enemy and held his position against their repeated efforts to recapture it.
SMITH, CORNELIUS C. Rank and organization: Corporal, Company K, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Near White River, S. Dak., 1 January 1891. Entered service at: Helena, Mont. Birth: Tucson, Ariz. Date of issue: 4 February 1891. Citation: With 4 men of his troop drove off a superior force of the enemy and held his position against their repeated efforts to recapture it, and subsequently pursued them a great distance.
MacGlLLlVARY, CHARLES A. Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 71st Infantry, 44th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Woelfling, France, 1 January 1945. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Birth: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: He led a squad when his unit moved forward in darkness to meet the threat of a breakthrough by elements of the 17th German Panzer Grenadier Division. Assigned to protect the left flank, he discovered hostile troops digging in. As he reported this information, several German machineguns opened fire, stopping the American advance. Knowing the position of the enemy, Sgt. MacGillivary volunteered to knock out 1 of the guns while another company closed in from the right to assault the remaining strong points. He circled from the left through woods and snow, carefully worked his way to the emplacement and shot the 2 camouflaged gunners at a range of 3 feet as other enemy forces withdrew. Early in the afternoon of the same day, Sgt. MacGillivary was dispatched on reconnaissance and found that Company I was being opposed by about 6 machineguns reinforcing a company of fanatically fighting Germans. His unit began an attack but was pinned down by furious automatic and small arms fire. With a clear idea of where the enemy guns were placed, he voluntarily embarked on a lone combat patrol. Skillfully taking advantage of all available cover, he stalked the enemy, reached a hostile machinegun and blasted its crew with a grenade. He picked up a submachine gun from the battlefield and pressed on to within 10 yards of another machinegun, where the enemy crew discovered him and feverishly tried to swing their weapon into line to cut him down. He charged ahead, jumped into the midst of the Germans and killed them with several bursts. Without hesitation, he moved on to still another machinegun, creeping, crawling, and rushing from tree to tree, until close enough to toss a grenade into the emplacement and close with its defenders. He dispatched this crew also, but was himself seriously wounded. Through his indomitable fighting spirit, great initiative, and utter disregard for personal safety in the face of powerful enemy resistance, Sgt. MacGillivary destroyed four hostile machineguns and immeasurably helped his company to continue on its mission with minimum casualties.
*YANO, RODNEY J. T. Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Place and date: Near Bien Hao, Republic of Vietnam, 1 January 1969. Entered service at: Honolulu, Hawaii. Born: 13 December 1943, Kealakekua Kona, Hawaii. Citation: Sfc. Yano distinguished himself while serving with the Air Cavalry Troop. Sfc. Yano was performing the duties of crew chief aboard the troop's command and control helicopter during action against enemy forces entrenched in dense jungle. From an exposed position in the face of intense small arms and antiaircraft fire he delivered suppressive fire upon the enemy forces and marked their positions with smoke and white phosphorous grenades, thus enabling his troop commander to direct accurate and effective artillery fire against the hostile emplacements. A grenade, exploding prematurely, covered him with burning phosphorous, and left him severely wounded. Flaming fragments within the helicopter caused supplies and ammunition to detonate. Dense white smoke filled the aircraft, obscuring the pilot's vision and causing him to lose control. Although having the use of only 1 arm and being partially blinded by the initial explosion, Sfc. Yano completely disregarded his welfare and began hurling blazing ammunition from the helicopter. In so doing he inflicted additional wounds upon himself, yet he persisted until the danger was past. Sfc. Yano's indomitable courage and profound concern for his comrades averted loss of life and additional injury to the rest of the crew. By his conspicuous gallantry at the cost of his life, in the highest traditions of the military service, Sfc. Yano has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
JAPANESE SOLDIERS DISCOVERED IN JUNGLE AFTER WAR. An American soldier accepts the surrender of about 20 Japanese soldiers who only discovered that the war
was over by reading it in the newspaper. On the island of
Corregidor, located at the mouth of Manila Bay, a lone soldier
on detail for the American Graves Registration was busy
recording the makeshift graves of American soldiers who had
lost their lives fighting the Japanese.
He was interrupted when approximately 20 Japanese soldiers
approached him-literally waving a white flag. They had been
living in an underground tunnel built during the war and
learned that their country had already surrendered when one
of them ventured out in search of water and found a
newspaper announcing Japan's defeat.
CASTRO TAKES CUBA. Cuban dictator Batista falls
from power: In the face of a popular revolution
spearheaded by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement,
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista flees the island nation.
As celebration and chaos intermingled in the Cuban
capitol of Havana, U.S. policymakers debated how best
to deal with the radical Castro and the ominous rumblings
of anti-Americanism in Cuba.
The United States government had supported the
American-friendly Batista regime since it came to power
in 1952. After Fidel Castro, together with a handful of
supporters that included the professional revolutionary
Che Guevara, landed in Cuba to unseat Batista in December 1956, the U.S. continued to support Batista.
Suspicious of what they believed to be Castro’s leftist ideology and fearful that his ultimate goals might include attacks on U.S. investments and properties in Cuba, American officials were nearly unanimous in opposing his revolutionary movement. Cuban support for Castro’s revolution, however, spread and grew in the late 1950s, partially due to his personal charisma and nationalistic rhetoric, but also because of the increasingly rampant corruption, brutality, and inefficiency within the Batista government.
This reality forced U.S. policymakers to slowly withdraw their support from Batista and begin a search in Cuba for an alternative to both the dictator and Castro. American efforts to find a “middle road” between Batista and Castro ultimately failed. On January 1, 1959, Batista and a number of his supporters fled Cuba.
Tens of thousands of Cubans (and thousands of Cuban-Americans in the United States) joyously celebrated the end of the dictator’s regime. Castro’s supporters moved quickly to establish their power. Judge Manuel Urrutia was named as provisional president. Castro and his band of guerrilla fighters triumphantly entered Havana on January 7.
In the years that followed, the U.S. attitude toward the new revolutionary government would move from cautiously suspicious to downright hostile. As the Castro government moved toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union, and Castro declared himself to be a Marxist-Leninist, relations between the U.S. and Cuba collapsed into mutual enmity, which continued only somewhat abated through the following decades.
1ST MARINE DIVISION DEPLOYS TO VIETNAM.
1st Marine Division advance elements arrive in Vietnam: On this
day, advance elements of the 1st Regiment of the Marine 1st
Division arrive in Vietnam. The entire division followed by the
end of March. The division established its headquarters at Chu
Lai and was given responsibility for the two southernmost
provinces of I Corps (the military region just south of the DMZ).
At the peak of its strength, the 1st Marine Division consisted of
four regiments of infantry: the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 27th Marines.
It also included the 11th Artillery regiment, which consisted
of six battalions of 105-mm, 155-mm, and 8-inch howitzers.
Other divisional combat units included the 1st Tank Battalion,
1st Antitank Battalion, 1st Amphibious Tractor Company,
1st Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 1st Force Reconnaissance
Company. The division numbered nearly 20,000
marines by the time all elements had arrived in South Vietnam.
During the Tet Offensive of 1968, the 1st Marine Division assisted the South Vietnamese army forces in recapturing the imperial city of Hue. The 1st Marine Division was withdrawn from Vietnam in the spring of 1971 and moved to its current base at Camp Pendleton, California.
During the course of the Vietnam War, 20 members of the 1st Marine Division won the Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery on the battlefield. The 1st Marine Division was twice awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry in action in Vietnam and received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Vietnamese Civil Action Award.
◆49 BCE "Alea iacta est!" Caesar crosses the Rubicon.
◆46 BCE Caesar captures Leptis, in Africa.
◆404 Last recorded gladiatorial fights at Rome.
◆633 Battle of Meicen: King Edwin of Northumbria defeats King Cadwallon of Cwynedd.
◆1136 Battle of Swansea: Welsh defeat Anglo-Norman colonists.
◆1158 Battle of Galloway: Roland defeats Gilpatrick.
◆1189 Saladin abandons the siege of Tyre.
◆1698 The Abenaki Indians and Massachusetts colonists sign a treaty halting hostilities between the two.
◆1735 Paul Revere was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
◆1745 Anthony Wayne was born near Philadelphia at Waynesborough, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
◆1776 Virginia Governor Dunmore orders the shelling of the garrison at Norfolk.
◆1780 American patriots conduct a continuing guerrilla campaign against the British in the territory surrounding Augusta, Georgia.
◆1782 The supporters of the British cause, the Loyalists, begin to leave the US, mainly for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Among the first to leave are those from the New England states and New York. If they stay, the Loyalists fear legal charges of treason or collaboration, and property confiscation.
◆1804 The tradition of the Marine Band serenading the Commandant was established.
◆1808 A U.S. law banning the import of slaves comes into effect, but is widely ignored.
◆1815 At New Orleans, British commander Sir Edward Pakenham leads an attack against the US fortifications around the city. Under General Andrew Jackson, the US Artillery proves superior, and the British are forced to withdraw in order to await reinforcements.
◆1863 Confederate General Braxton Bragg and Union General William Rosecrans readjust their troops as the Battle of Murfreesboro continues.
◆1863 Confederate warships under Major Leon Smith, CSA, defeated Union blockading forces at Galveston in a fierce surprise attack combined with an assault ashore by Confederate troops that resulted in the capture of the Northern Army company stationed there.★
◆1883 William Jacob Donovan, American lawyer and director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), was born in Buffalo, N.Y.
◆1915 The German submarine U-24 sinks the British battleship Formidable off the coast of Plymouth Massachusetts.
◆1920 Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his assistant J. Edgar Hoover, begin prosecution of what he perceives as a "Red Menace."
◆1920 Basil L. Plumley is born, Sgt Maj, US, veteran of three wars and five combat jumps, hero of the Ia Drang Valley, d. 2012.
◆1933 Defense of the Great Wall of China.★
◆1944 American aircraft attack a Japanese convoy off Kavieng, New Ireland. The planes are from the carrier task group led by Admiral Sherman.
◆1945 Operation Bodenplatte, The German Luftwaffe makes a series of heavy attacks on Allied airfields in Belgium, Holland and northern France.★
◆1945 Operation Nordwind.★
◆1946 An American soldier accepts the surrender of about 20 Japanese soldiers who only discovered that the war was over by reading it in the newspaper.★
◆1950 Mary T. Sproul commissioned as first female doctor in Navy
◆1951 As almost half a million Chinese Communist and North Korean troops launched a new ground offensive. They take Inchon and Kimpo Airfied. Fifth Air Force embarked on a campaign of air raids on enemy troop columns.
◆1959 Cuban dictator Batista falls from power: In the face of a popular revolution spearheaded by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista flees the island nation.★
◆1966 1st Marine Division advance elements arrive in Vietnam: On this day, advance elements of the 1st Regiment of the Marine 1st Division arrive in Vietnam.★
◆1967 Operation Sam Houston begins: Operation Sam Houston begins as a continuation of border surveillance operations in Pleiku and Kontum Provinces in the Central Highlands by units from the U.S. 4th and 25th Infantry Divisions. The purpose of the operation was to interdict the movement of North Vietnamese troops and equipment into South Vietnam from communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos. The operation ended on April 5. A total of 169 U.S. soldiers were killed in action; 733 enemy casualties were reported.
◆2003 U.S. and British warplanes attacked an Iraqi mobile radar system after it entered the southern no-fly zone.