June 4, 2023

History Content for the Future

WW2 Day by Day

On 3 June 1944, when German forces ambush his unit on patrol near Valmontone, Italy, Private Elden H. Johnson (aged 23) protects his comrades while they escape the kill zone.

For his actions today, Pvt. Johnson will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on 16 May 1945. His citation will read:
˝For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Pvt. Johnson elected to sacrifice his life in order that his comrades might extricate themselves from an ambush. Braving the massed fire of about 60 riflemen, three machine guns, and three tanks from positions only 25 yards distant, he stood erect and signaled his patrol leader to withdraw. The whole area was brightly illuminated by enemy flares. Then, despite 20-mm machine-gun, machine-pistol, and rifle fire directed at him, Pvt. Johnson advanced beyond the enemy in a slow deliberate walk. Firing his automatic rifle from the hip, he succeeded in distracting the enemy and enabled his 12 comrades to escape. Advancing to within five yards of a machine gun, emptying his weapon, Pvt. Johnson killed its crew. Standing in full view of the enemy, he reloaded and turned on the riflemen to the left, firing directly into their positions. He either killed or wounded four of them. A burst of machine-gun fire tore into Pfc. Johnson and he dropped to his knees. Fighting to the very last, he steadied himself on his knees and sent a final burst of fire crashing into another German. With that he slumped forward dead. Pvt. Johnson had willingly given his life in order that his comrades might live. These acts on the part of Pvt. Johnson were an inspiration to the entire command and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.˝

Pictures: 3rd Div. infantrymen enter the town of Mondragone and "capture" it during the practice of landing exercises held by the 3rd Inf. Div. 31 July, 1944.; Portrait of Pvt. Elden H. Johnson
Sources: Signal Corp Archive SC 270614; MoH Convention

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On 29 May 1944, the Luftwaffe launches the last bombing mission of Operation Steinbock, by now dubbed the ˝Baby Blitz˝.

If you read our post covering Operation Steinbock's first raid on 21/22 January, you'd have known that the Luftwaffe did not get off to a great start.

Since then, the Luftwaffe has conducted around 40 major raids against British cities, with almost half of that number against London. The bombers flying on 3/4 February widely scattered their bombs, with only 26 of 190 tons hitting London. On 13/14 February, they did even worse, with only 4 of 158.5 tons dropped finding their target. Accuracy improved later in February, with the nightly raids between 18 and 24 February being particularly deadly, killing 556 people and wounding another 1,228.

But the Luftwaffe was paying dearly for every bomb dropped. Their losses amounted to 72 aircraft or 5.2% of the available forces in February alone. And when Generalmajor Platz, in charge of Operation Steinbock, ordered his bombers to target Hull and Bristol throughout March, the losses got even worse at 75 aircraft or 8.3% of the total committed forces.

By the end of April, with losses again at 75 aircraft and now 8.7%, the Luftwaffe lost most of their bombers and irreplaceable aircrews.

Platz assembled the last significant concentration of 150 bombers for a raid on 14/15 May against Bristol. Losses have been lighter this month at only 50 aircraft but amounted to 10% of the total number available.

Tonight, 29 May, Platz orders the cancellation of Operation Steinbock following tonight's final raid against Portsmouth and Falmouth.

Overall, the Luftwaffe has permanently lost some 329 aircraft and hundreds of aircrew, with that number climbing to 524 if aircraft damaged and needing lengthy repairs are counted.

On the other hand, the British have lost only 14 aircraft, with another 14 lost in intruder operations into France. But as with all strategic and terror bombings, the civilians have suffered the most, as the Luftwaffe's bombs have cost 1,556 civilians their lives.

Picture: Heinkel He 177 on airfield with crew
Source: Bild 101I-676-7969A-25

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On 28 May 1944, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief Expeditionary Force (ANCXF), issues the order to ˝execute Operation Neptune˝.

Ramsay's order is the culmination of months of preparation. On 24 April, ANCXF issued commanders Naval Order, Operation NEPTUNE (ONs), a 700-page, 7.6 cm (3 inches) thick book of orders in sealed envelopes.

On 9 May, Ramsay issued a notice that all plans and orders would be frozen as of 0900 on 12 May, with the arrival of the air plan, so that no alterations would be possible and confusion over orders would be reduced.

Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, commander of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF), explained during a meeting on 16 May that an aircraft corridor in which Naval anti-aircraft fire would be prohibited was to be established. As you'll know from our post on 17 May, Leigh-Mallory approved the painting of 'invasion stripes' as an IFF measure to further secure his aircraft from any trigger-happy naval gunners.

The recent discovery of new beach obstacles and defenses, including those discovered by the commando raid we covered in a post on 15 May, has narrowed the possible invasion dates dependent on weather, tidal, and lighting conditions. So on 23 May, Supreme Commander General Eisenhower ordered in special code that D-day was provisionally fixed for 5 June.

Then, at 2330 on 25 May, all holders of ONs received the code to open their envelopes.

Today, Ramsay confirms the order to ˝execute Operation Neptune˝. He fixes H-Hours at 0610 (Force O), 0600 (Force U), 0645 (Forces S and G), 0655 (Force J, right sector), and 0705 (Force J, left sector). All invasion forces go into lockdown, and no personnel are permitted to leave their ships or bases from this point forward.

All is set for the largest amphibious invasion in human history. And if you want to see how it goes, then subscribe to our D-Day 24 Hours YouTube channel (follow this link: https://youtube.com/@D-Day24Hours-sm5pe), where we will premiere ground-breaking 24-hour coverage of the Normandy landings at 00:00 CET on 6 June.

Picture: Sherman tanks embarking onto LCT-610 at Gosport, 3 June 1944
Source: IWM H 39000

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On 27 May 1944, a clue for 11 across in a crossword puzzle in 'The Daily Telegraph' reads "[common]... but some bigwig like this has stolen some of it at times." The answer is 'Overlord'.

If you recall our post from 2 May, several significant codenames for the Allied invasion of northern France appeared in crossword puzzles in 'The Daily Telegraph' and caused alarm within Mi5.

Today's clue revealing the codename of the entire invasion plan is akin to mockery for Mi5, so they go on a manhunt for a German agent.

They quickly locate the crossword compiler, 54-year-old WWI veteran Leonard Dawe, headmaster at London's Strand School for Boys. The school was evacuated to Effingham, Surrey, near a U.S. and Canadian military base. Agents arrest Dawe and his colleague Melville Jones.

Mi5 will interrogate Dawe for days after quickly releasing Jones. Dawe will fervently deny having any knowledge of classified information. Unfortunately for him, the crossword puzzles he had already sent to the editors will continue to incriminate him.

On 30 May, the puzzle clue will be "This bush is a centre of nursery revolutions˝, and the answer printed on 31 May will be 'Mulberry', the name of the portable harbors intended for the invasion of France. The clue on 1 June will read "Britannia and he hold to the same thing", and the answer will be 'Neptune', the codename for the amphibious element of the invasion.

But Mi5 will be unable to get anything out of Dawe and will release him on 7 June.

Four decades later, Ronald French, one of Dawe's students, will reveal that Dawe would invite him and other students to fill out a blank crossword grid as an exercise. French overheard the invasion plans and codenames while talking or playing with the young soldiers at the nearby base and kept a record in his notebook for Dawe's 'crossword exercises'. After his release, Dawe ordered him to burn the notebook and swear an oath of secrecy following a stern lecture on national security.

But Dawe also likely wanted to protect himself from being fired by The Daily Telegraph and the school for plagiarism.

Picture: Compilation of crosswords incriminating Dawe
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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On 26 May 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), issues a memorandum titled ˝Preservation of Historical Monuments˝.

Ahead of the invasion of Western Europe, the Allies are keen to avoid a repeat of controversy and condemnation similar over the destruction of the Monte Cassino Abbey by USAAF bombers, which you can check out in our posts on 15 and 16 February, especially after the recent appeal by French Catholic Cardinals, which you can read in our 14 May post.

Today, Eisenhower issues a memorandum to all military officers under his command to address the issue of collateral damage:
1. Shortly we will be fighting our way across the Continent of Europe in Battles designed to preserve our civilization. Inevitably, in the path of our advance will be found historical monuments and cultural centers which symbolize to the world all that we are fighting to preserve.

2. It is the responsibility of every commander to protect and respect these symbols whenever possible.

3. In some circumstances the success of the military operation may be prejudiced on our reluctance to destroy these revered objects. Then, as at Cassino, where the enemy relied on our emotional attachments to shield his defense, the lives of our men are paramount. So, where military necessity dictates, commanders may order the required action even though it involves the destruction of some honored site.

4. But there are many circumstances in which damage and destruction are not necessary and cannot be justified. In such cases, through the exercise of restraint and discipline, commanders will preserve centers and objects of historical and cultural significance. Civil Affairs Staffs at higher echelons will advise commanders of the locations of historical monuments of this type, both in advance of the front lines and in occupied areas. This information, together with the necessary instructions, will be passed down through command channels to all echelons.˝

From U.S. National Archives NAID #7505528
Picture: The San Tommaso Cathedral in Ortona gutted during the December 1943 fighting,
Source: National Archives of Canada, PA-136308

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On 24 May 1944, Churchill lays out the post-liberation political order in France during a speech to Parliament.

During today's Parliamentary debate on foreign affairs, Churchill explains why the Allies will proceed cautiously regarding post-liberation political arrangements in France:
˝There is no doubt that this political entity, the French Committee of National Liberation, presides over, and directs, forces at the present time which, in the struggle against Hitler in Europe, give it the fourth place in the Grand Alliance. The reason why the United States and Great Britain have not been able to recognise it yet as the Government of France, or even as the Provisional Government of France, is because we are not sure that it represents the French nation in the same way as the Governments of Britain, the United States and Soviet Russia represent the whole body of their people. The Committee will, of course, exercise the leadership to establish law and order in the liberated areas of France under the supervision, while the military exigency lasts, of the supreme Allied Commander, but we do not wish to commit ourselves at this stage to imposing the Government of the French Committee upon all of France which might fall under our control without more knowledge than we now possess of the situation in the interior of France...

In Norway and the Low Countries it is different. If we go there we shall find that continuity of lawful government is maintained by the Governments which we recognise... with perfect and unbroken continuity... On the other hand, we are not able to take a decision at this time to treat the French Committee of National Liberation, or the French Provisional Government, as it has been called, as the full, final, and lawful embodiment of the French Republic. It may be that the Committee itself may be able to aid us in the solution of these riddles and I must say that I think their decree governing their future action constitutes a most forceful and helpful step in that direction...˝

Picture: Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Charles De Gaulle review French soldiers during their meeting in Marrakesh, 13 January 1944
Source: IWM HU 60057

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On 16 May 1944, Romani prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp stage an uprising.

After Heinrich Himmler ordered all Romani people to be sent to concentration camps for extermination on 16 December 1942, the SS set up a separate camp within Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Section B-IIe, known as the Zigeunerfamilienlager ("Gypsy Family Camp"). Since then, around 23,000 Romani have been deported here, of which 6,500 have survived and are in the camp currently.

Since Rudolf Höss returned to his post as camp commandant to supervise 'Operation Höss', the deportation and extermination of Hungarian Jews, on 8 May, he decided that more space was needed. So on 15 May, Höss ordered the liquidation of all prisoners in the Gipsy Family Camp.

Commander and rapportführer (reporting officer) of the Gypsy Family Camp disagreed with the SS and their methods and asked Polish political prisoner Tadeusz Joachimowski to warn the Romani prisoners that at Lagersperre (curfew) the following day, the SS would enter the camp and round them up for execution.

Today, on 16 May, at 1900 hours, the gong is sounded for the Lagersperre and SS cars drive into the Gipsy Family Camp. Around 60 SS soldiers approach the barracks, but the Romani, armed with shovels, knives, and stones, refuse to come out. The SS soldiers, stunned, back away to their vehicles. After consulting with their commander, the SS soldiers leave the camp. The Romani manage to save themselves from certain death.

Sadly, this will not last long. Throughout June and July, the Romani will be moved into the even-numbered camp blocks as tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews will be accommodated in the odd-numbered ones. Then, on the morning of 1 August, the SS will take transport around half of the Romani prisoners, those fit for work, to Auschwitz I, Ravensbrück, and Buchenwald concentration camps.

Throughout the 2 August and early morning of 3 August, SS soldiers will close down the Gipsy Family Camp, murder the remaining 2,897 Romani women, children, elderly people, and the infirm in the gas chambers and burn their bodies in Crematorium V.

Picture: Romani prisoners at Belzec extermination camp, 1940
Source: USHMM 74705

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On 14 May 1944, French Cardinals appeal to clergy in the USA and Great Britain to influence their governments to ensure that the bombing efforts spare French towns, works of art, and churches.

The recent intensification of Allied bombing across France in preparation for D-Day under the 'Transportation Plan', which we covered in a post on 9 May, has undoubtedly affected German war logistics. Still, it has also destroyed significant parts of French towns and cities despite Allied efforts to target rail infrastructure precisely. French civilian casualties have been a regrettable side-effect of the campaign, although they have not reached the catastrophic numbers predicted by Winston Churchill.

Today, French Cardinals appeal for a more humane air war via radio address:
˝The bombing of France fills our hearts with sadness and anxiety.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and wounded, and their homes, as well as churches, schools, and hospitals, have been destroyed.

We ask you to intervene with your respective Governments to ensure that the civilian population of France and Europe may be spared as much as possible. We are convinced that with more care military objectives will not be confused with humble dwellings in the neighborhood.

We believe that our towns, our works of art, and our churches in particular should be spared.˝

Will we see a repetition of the horrible destruction of Italian towns or have Allied air commanders changed their tactics sufficiently to ensure higher precision bombing?

Picture: Aerial view of the city of Vire after the bombardments of 6 June 1944.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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On 12 May 1944, Sepoy (Private) Kamal Ram (aged 19), 3rd Battalion, 8th Punjab Regiment, British Indian Army, neutralizes three German machine gun posts during an assault on the Gustav Line across the River Gari in Italy.

King George VI will award Sepoy Ram the Victoria Cross on 27 July 1944. Ram's citation will read:
˝In Italy, on 12 May 1944, after crossing the River Gari overnight, the Company advance was held up by heavy machine-gun fire from four posts on the front and flanks. As the capture of the position was essential to secure the bridgehead, the Company Commander called for a volunteer to get round the rear of the right post and silence it.

Volunteering at once and crawling forward through the wire to a flank, Sepoy Kamal Ram attacked the post single handed and shot the first machine-gunner; a second German tried to seize his weapon but Sepoy Kamal Ram killed him with the bayonet, and then shot a German officer who, appearing from the trench with his pistol, was about to fire.

Sepoy Kamal Ram, still alone, at once went on to attack the second machine-gun post which was continuing to hold up the advance, and after shooting one machine-gunner, he threw a grenade and the remaining enemy surrendered.

Seeing a Havildar making a reconnaissance for an attack on the third post, Sepoy Kamal Ram joined him, and, having first covered his companion, went in and completed the destruction of this post.

By his courage, initiative and disregard for personal risk, Sepoy Kamal Ram enabled his Company to charge and secure the ground vital to the establishment of the bridgehead and the completion of work on two bridges.

When a platoon, pushed further forward to widen the position, was fired on from a house, Sepoy Kamal Ram, dashing towards the house, shot one German in a slit trench and captured two more. His sustained and outstanding bravery unquestionably saved a difficult situation at a critical period of the battle and enabled his Battalion to attain the essential part of their objective.˝

Ram will be the second youngest Indian VC recipient.

Picture: King George VI pinning the Victoria Cross on Sepoy Kamal Ram, 26 July 1944
Source: IWM NA 17270

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On 11 May 1944, during a joint address with Winston Churchill to the British Parliament, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King reaffirms Canada's commitment to the war effort.

As covered in our 1 May post, the Prime Ministers and High Commissioners of all British Dominions arrived in London for the first Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference.

Today, Prime Minister King addresses both Houses of Parliament:

˝Churchill: Like most of us here he is a party politician. Well, there is nothing to be ashamed of in that. Then there is the link which joins together the old world and the new which links the vast American people with whom I trust we shall ourselves develop a fraternal association which joins them by another link to Canada bound by the sacred ties to the Mother country and also by terms of the deepest intimacy and friendship to the United States clamps the whole structure of this benignant, glorious British Empire into one homogeneous mass...

Mackenzie King: The free nations of the world can never forget that it was the indomitable resistance of the people of Britain that bought the precious time for the mobilization of the forces of freedom around the globe.

It is however not of Britain but of Canada that I am expected to speak on this occasion. I place first the aspect I regard as most significant. Canada's war effort is a voluntary effort. It is the free expression of a free people.

Our first duty is to win the war. But to win the war we must keep the vision of a better future... No lesser vision will suffice to give the victory over those who seek world domination and human enslavement. No lesser vision will enable us fittingly to honour the memory of the men and women who are giving their all for freedom and justice. In the realization of this vision, the Governments and people who owe a common allegiance to the Crown may well find the new meaning and significance of the British Commonwealth and Empire. It is for us to make of our association of free British nations "a model of what we hope the whole world will some day become.˝

Picture: William Lyon Mackenzie King stands beside Winston Churchill
Source: Library and Archives of Canada

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On 10 May 1944, Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Soviet NKVD, accuses Crimean Tatars of mass desertion from the Red Army and appeals to Stalin for their mass deportation to Uzbekistan.

On 22 April 1944, as the Red Army was crushing the German defenses in Crimea, Beria sent a memorandum to Stalin to accuse the Crimean Tatars of mass desertion. Beria has done this before to other Soviet minorities. You can learn more about Beria and the NKVD's role in previous deportations by watching Spartacus' War Against Humanity series (click the link in bio).

Today, 10 May, Beria sends a letter to Stalin outlining “the treacherous actions of the Crimean Tatars against the Soviet people” and “the undesirability of further residence of the Crimean Tatars on the frontier border of the Soviet Union.” He also proposes evicting all Crimean Tatar population to Uzbekistan.

Tomorrow, 11 May, Stalin, as head of the GKO, will issue secret Decree 5859ss, titled simply ˝On the Crimean Tatars˝. It will justify the banishment of all Tatars from Crimea through accusations of collaborationism, reprisals against Soviet troops and partisans, and attempting secession from the Soviet Union. The Decree will outline the process of 'resettlement' with the Tatars allowed to bring some property, food and medical assistance provisions on their trip to Uzbekistan, and even loans.

In reality, at 0300 hours on 18 May, 32,000 NKVD officers will begin violently rounding up all Crimean Tatars, allowing them only a few minutes to collect 20-30 kg of belongings. By 20 May, 180,014 Tatars will be forced onto 67 trains headed for Uzbekistan. Thousands will die during the journey. By 8 June, over 200,000 people will be deported, including other 'foreign subjects' and minorities.

On 14 July 1944, the Soviet government will allow 51,000 people, mostly Russians, to settle into the empty Crimean Tatar homes. However, the Crimean economy will quickly decline because of a lack of skilled farmers and workers.

At least 30,000 Tatars will die of starvation, exhaustion, and diseases in the first year after resettlement.

Picture: Deported Crimean Tatars unloaded from trains in Uzbekistan
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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On 8 May 1944, President Edvard Beneš of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile signs a treaty of alliance with Joseph Stalin that guarantees that the territory of Czechoslovakia will be liberated by the Red Army and returned to Czechoslovak civilian control.

President Beneš now appears to be set on gaining a legal guarantee of the Soviet's respect for the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia.

This treaty is a clear continuation of his diplomatic efforts last year, when he signed the "Treaty of Friendship, Mutual Aid, and Postwar Cooperation" in Moscow with President Mikhail Kalinin of the Soviet Union, which you can learn more about from our post on 12 December.

Beneš has also reversed his stance on resistance to the German occupation once the Red Army reached the borders of Czechoslovakia on 9 April 1944. Previously he had opposed it, believing it had the potential for useless loss of life, but he has been calling for revolutionary resistance over radio addresses for the past few weeks.

Today, 8 May, Beneš meets Joseph Stalin and signs a treaty that places a legal obligation for the Soviet Union's respect for Czechoslovak sovereignty.

The treaty provides for the creation of two zones once the Red Army enters Czechoslovak territory: the ˝Operational Zone˝, where the Soviet High Command will have the decisive power in all matters, and the ˝Rear Zone, where the Soviet High Command will transfer civil administration to an ˝Administrative Delegation˝, to be appointed by the Czechoslovak Government in London, and allow for the formation of the Czechoslovak armed forces. This 'Delegation' will, according to the treaty, have representatives from all government departments.

However, the treaty does stipulate some limitations on Czechoslovakia's sovereign rights justified in the text by military reasons and by the necessity for Soviet military personnel to remain under Soviet jurisdiction.

In the upcoming weeks František Němec, amember of the National Assembly of the Czechoslovak Republic for the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Workers' Party, will be appointed as the head of the 'Administrative Delegation' under the treaty.

Picture: Edvard Beneš
Source: ČTK

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On 6 May 1944, Captain John Niel Randle (aged 26), commander of 'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment, leads an attack on General Purpose Transport (GPT) Ridge during the relief of the Kohima garrison and successfully destroys a key Japanese bunker.

Cpt. Randle will be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Randle's citation will read:
˝On the 4th May, 1944, at Kohima in Assam, a Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment attacked the Japanese positions on a nearby ridge.
Captain Randle took over command of the Company which was leading the attack when the Company Commander was severely wounded. His handling of a difficult situation in the face of heavy fire was masterly and although wounded himself in the knee by grenade splinters he continued to inspire his men by his initiative, courage and outstanding leadership... He then went forward and brought in all the wounded men who were lying outside the perimeter. In spite of his painful wound Captain Randle refused to be evacuated and insisted on carrying out a personal reconnaissance with great daring in bright moonlight prior to a further attack...

At dawn on 6th May the attack opened, led by Captain Randle, and one of the platoons succeeded in reaching the crest of the hill held by the Japanese. Another platoon, however, ran into heavy medium machine gun fire from a bunker on the reverse slope of the feature...
With utter disregard of the obvious danger to himself Captain Randle charged the Japanese machine gun post single-handed with rifle and bayonet. Although bleeding in the face and mortally wounded by numerous bursts of machine gun fire he reached the bunker and silenced the gun with a grenade thrown through the bunker slit. He then flung his body across the slit so that the aperture should be completely sealed. The bravery shown by this officer could not have been surpassed and by his self-sacrifice he saved the lives of many of his men and enabled not only his own Company but the whole Battalion to gain its objective and win a decisive victory over the enemy.˝

Pictures: Scene of devastation at Naga village near Kohima; Portrait of John Niel Randle
Sources: IWM IND 3709; HU 2000

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On 5 May 1944, Spain halts the free export of tungsten to Germany in exchange for the USA lifting its oil embargo.

With Franco's Spain shifting from pro-German non-belligerency toward clear neutrality, Spain's exports of tungsten ore to Nazi Germany's war industry, has remained the primary thorn in the Allies' side.

The Germans had secured Spain as a key export partner by establishing the large commercial conglomerate, Sociedad Financiera Industrial (SOFINDUS), formed in 1936 under the name Rowak. Through bilateral agreements in 1937 and 1939, they ensured German enterprises gained ˝favored economic treatment˝ and circumvented prohibitions on direct foreign ownership.

According to British and US estimates from July 1943, Germany needs at least 3,500 tons of tungsten annually. Without Spanish exports, Germany's tool-machine industry and its capacity to produce armor-piercing shells would effectively collapse.

Thus, the Allies stepped up their efforts in November 1943 after learning of secret Spanish-German agreements from February and August 1943. In exchange for armaments from Germany, Spain provides Germany with almost half its annual requirement of tungsten.

Britain and the US had cautiously implied an oil embargo in talks with Spain until 14 January 1944, when Spanish Minister for Industry and Commerce Carceller defended Spain’s agreements with Germany. After the embargo was in place, Britain continued to hold a moderate stance in requesting a partial Spanish embargo on tungsten to Germany. The US has maintained its requirement for a complete ban on exports.

On 2 May 1944, Spain finally signed a secret agreement with the US and Britain to limit its tungsten exports to Germany to 580 tons for the year, expel German spies from its territory, and withdraw the remainder of the Blue Division.

Today, 5 May, oil shipments to Spain resume as tungsten shipments to Germany come to a grinding halt.

However, hundreds more tons of tungsten will reach Germany illegally until the Franco-Spanish border is closed in August 1944.

Picture: Production of Stug III, Berlin, Altmärkische Kettenwerk GmbH (Alkett), 1943
Source: Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1985-100-33

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