France Fights On (English Translation) - Thread II - To the continent!

Barely 24 hours after the attack on Vatutin, the services of Viktor Abakumov give their first conclusions to Lavrenti Beria, head of their supervisory authority
No, Smersh was not supervised by NKVD, Abakumov answered to Stalin directly and in that attitude was Beria's equal.
 
Map of Operation Kutuzov
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No, the 3rd et 4rd SMERSH departement (counter-intelligence, counter-insurgency) were transfered to NKVD.
Abakumov may answer directly to Stalin, this was not systematic. And in fact, on a file so touchy, they will work together - for their own good. And don't expect camarad to have sent his report only to Beria.
 
04/10/43 - Diplomacy & Economy
October 4th, 1943

Washington
- Edward Stettinius Jr., head of the Lend-Lease Office since its creation in 1941, succeeds Sumner Welles as Under Secretary of State. Stettinius's previous positions seemed a natural fit for the position, as he had made numerous trips to the Allied governments receiving aid.
For Welles, this is the end of the struggle for influence with Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State. Welles was preferred to Hull by Roosevelt, but the Secretary of State had strong support in Congress. Moreover, he had succeeded in undermining his opponent's reputation, notably by having his bisexuality revealed to the general public. In 1940, Welles had gone with the President to the funeral of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, W.B. Bankhead, in Alabama. On the way back, he had made sexual propositions to two sleeping car stewards. A golden opportunity for Hull: through his friend the former ambassador to France William Bullitt, Hull had passed the information on to Republican Senator Owen Brewster of Maine, who had passed the scoop on to a journalist opposed to Roosevelt... After almost three years of various maneuvers, a parliamentary inquiry confirmed the story and Welles had to resign. He is now replaced by Stettinius.
But the story does not end there. Very angry with Bullitt, Roosevelt pushed him to run for mayor of Philadelphia, but made sure that his Republican opponent won! And a year later, during Roosevelt's last and triumphant re-election to the presidency, Cordell Hull did not regain the position he had held for many years: it is Stettinius who will succeed him at the office of Secretary of State...
 
04/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 4th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Operation Tigertooth
Burma-Thailand border
- The northern column has still not been spotted at the end of a day where the length of the stage, less than 10 kilometers, was inversely proportional to its difficulty. Some men, in spite of their acclimatization and the respect of anti-malaria precautions, have fever. Worse: the mules can't take it anymore.
More in the south, the two other columns begin to sink in the forest, towards the border. However, column C is caught by several companies of the 71st Japanese Division, determined to fight. The double-tailed dragons of Uncle Sam have to intervene several times in the afternoon to allow the Chindits to disengage. Although they suffered heavy losses, the Japanese believe they had achieved their objective: to reopen the road to Thailand and push the intruders back into the forest, where they will be condemned in the short term, for lack of supplies.
.........
At night, off the coast of Tavoy, the MN Surcouf surfaces and pounds several points of the coastline where Japanese activities had been spotted for two hours. The gunners did not hope to hit much, but to create a diversion. In fact, for the command, there is no longer any doubt: the British are preparing to land in the area.

Bangkok, 09:30 - This morning, the streets of the capital are relatively animated, since the "Farangs" have not shown up for almost ten days. The Bangkokians take advantage of this sunny morning to try to make provisions, especially since many fear that this lull is only temporary. The stalls are thus numerous, in particular along the banks of Chao Phraya where fishermen and peasants sell the product of their fishing or of their crops, sitting in their skiffs. But when the first blasts resound, even the most benign react immediately: they are back! With celerity, each one finds the reflexes to follow and the streets are empty in a few minutes.
More than 21,000 feet above, twenty-four four-engine planes of the 14th Air Force and the ROCAF start operation "Bangkok round the clock". Targeting (with more or less accuracy) the Hua Lamphong train station, the bombers poured explosive bombs mixed with smaller but formidable incendiary bombs. The flak responds, but it is poorly equipped with sighting systems and its effect is mainly moral. Buildings collapse, crushed by the explosive bombs, while small houses are devoured by flames.
The RTAF sendsfifteen Ki-43 Hayabusa to intercept the formation, but the bombers cruise at an altitude that the Nakajimas have a hard time reaching.
Worse still, the four-engined bombers are escorted by a dozen P-51s from the 75th FS. Despite their determination, the Thai pilots are kept at a distance from the Flying Fortresses and the Liberators, who are not bothered. The escort loses two Mustangs in exchange for four "Oscars".
.........
22:00 - In the Thai capital, the night is quiet. The daily communiqué of the General Staff has just announced that the RTAF had "heroically repelled more than one hundred heavy bombers from China at the cost of heavy sacrifices".
However, a buzzing noise soon disturbed the night silence: it is the Halifax of Sqn 624 and the Wellingtons of Sqn 1 (BVAS) that come to execute a bombing inspired (on a very small scale...) by the Ruhr campaign, a few months earlier. The British strategists estimated that, considering the numerous wooden constructions that characterize Thai cities, the addition to the usual bombs of a container of methanol would maximize the damage. Accurate calculation - the bombing causes many victims, including many burn victims, in the port area, as the docks were the target of the raid this time. For the British crews, on the other hand, the night is much quieter than over Germany... The next day's communiqué could only curse the cowardly attackers: it was only too obvious that the Thai night fighters were conspicuous by their absence.

Indochina Campaign
The Hanoi revolt
Hanoi
- The city buries its dead, in a hurry, bending its back so as not to attract reprisals, but the bloodlust of the Occupiers seems momentarily satisfied. The capital of Tonkin has joined Cochinchina in its martyrdom... and its own is not over.
Hanoi and Saigon, still officially French, will be the only Compagnons de la Libération cities outside the Metropole.

Vientiane area (Laos) - Despite a rather gloomy sky, the Lodestars of 344 Squadron carry out a food and ammunition drop for General Bourdeau's forces. To the great pleasure of the Franco-Laotians, the parachuting of the containers is done with an accuracy that has become the trademark of the Belgian unit.
Taking advantage of the presence of the escort, provided by 341 Squadron, the ground teams ask the P-51s for a little help. These make some strafing passes to tickle the imprudently exposed Thai positions a bit. These attacks cause few losses, but have an undeniable moral effect, especially since the RTAF and the Japanese air force are conspicuous by their absence.

Dien-Bien-Phu, 23:30 - In the darkness, several flak spotters hear the sound of an engine. Not wanting to take any risk, they sound the horn of alert. The howling of the siren is accompanied by the first explosions. It is indeed an enemy plane, a big H6K4 "Mavis" which, taking advantage of its great autonomy, bypassed the allied base to arrive from the west, thus escaping the lookouts.
Unlike the previous raid, the blackout measures were well observed, and the crew of H6K4 must drop its projectiles at the guess. One of the secondary runways is hit several times, impacts without gravity which will be filled in the next day. On the other hand, the servants of a particularly skilful (or lucky) Bofors place a 40 mm shell in engine 4 of the four-engine aircraft as it started its retreat. Fortunately, the crew manages to extinguish the fire and returns to Haiphong on three engines.
This mishap confirms the fears of the Navy officers. Immediately, they decide to stop risking the "Type 97 flying boats" in raids that did not really bring anything concrete. To appease General Rikichi, they agree to assign small E7K2 "Alf" and F1M "Pete" based at Grand-Lac to these night attacks.
 
04/10/43 - Eastern Front
October 4th, 1943

Operations Kutusov and Rumyantsev
Kutousov - The fox's skin
Sector from Berezne to Rovne
- The order to stop Kutusov arrives from Moscow during the night - all the more easily since the leader here is now called Zhukov. The 3rd Ukrainian Front soon stops on its positions, with in front of it a 6. Armee which is just as exhausted.
The offensive of the 37th Army (among others!), started 35 days ago, is finally over.
This does not make only happy - and among the disappointed, we find in particular General Vasily Chuikov. Although obviously lucid about the state of his forces, he remains convinced that with a little rest and support, the objective set by Vatutin was accessible. Moreover, the weather is good again! For the former peasant from Tula, Kronstadt miner and Party member since 1919, there is nothing that cannot be achieved with skill and and, if necessary, by paying with his own hands*. Strongly capable of getting out of complex negotiations such as those that had once taken place in China**, he hoped to negotiate with his new boss the possibility of moving on after a certain period of time, like during the Winter War. Unfortunately for him, Chuikov was no more successful than he had been against the Finns. Obviously, Zhukov's decision was already made - his hope for success was sacrificed to other assaults.
The general will keep a very strong resentment towards the Marshal. Returned to the HQ after a two-day tour of the infantry, Vassili Grossman noted this in his notebooks.
"We are now stationed in Polivtsi, in the middle of gardens still in bloom, in a beautiful place, with violets and bright green grass. Calmness reigns. We hear the song of the birds. I was moved when I came here, I really wanted to stay with those with whom I share so many memories.
Meal at Chuikov's on the terrace of a small country house with a garden. There are there Chuikov, Krylov, Vassiliev and two colonels members of the military council.
The meeting is cold, all are dissatisfied. Unfulfilled ambitions, not enough decorations, detestation of all those who have been most generously decorated, detestation of the press. Of the film Smolensk***, they say a lot. Men of great stature and yet a heavy, execrable impression. Not a word about the dead, about the way how to immortalize those who did not return. Everyone talks about himself and his own merits.
The next morning, at Gurtiev's. Same picture. No modesty. "I have done, I have had to bear, I-I-I-I-I..." They talk about the other leaders without any respect, and to spread old wives' tales: "I was told that Lelyushenko said this and that...".
In short, the general idea is: "All the credit goes to us, the 37th Army, and within the 37th Army, to me and me alone, others have little to do with it. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity..."
But Grossman is not about to leave Chuikov's training - whatever happens next, it will probably not be announced in the press (even if it is a state press!). With general Vatutin in hospital, many destinies are changed - for better or worse.
.........
Main Clinic of Kiev - In a perfectly insulated, guarded and heated room, the hospital staff is busy with General Vatutin. It is not every day that we have a front commander as a patient! Nurses and caretakers are taking care of him while around Vatutin, a swarm of experts are busy, examining, prescribing and conciliating.
Disagreeable and haughty as only some surgeons can be, Bakulev, Vovsi, Shamov and Yudin (among others!) are not more excited by the patient's condition than their colleague General Ivan Ischenko - which does not help their mood. The leg became infected, and it is in vain that one proceeds to a crowd of injections and more or less experimental treatments. Among them, of course, are bacteriophages - but they are already thinking of using the penicillin so much praised by the capitalists. In the USSR, however, the emergency recourse to imported treatment is never a good sign! If for the moment - it is true - everything is still under control, surgeons and doctors are no less pessimistic. They have seen many similar injuries, and their prognosis is dark (see below)...

Rumyantsev - Boiling cauldrons
Ostroh sector
- Still no significant progress for Andrei Vlassov's 1st Shock Army, which continues to spread out on the plain between Ostroh and Ozhenyn. The previous day's attempt was more than a warning to the German command - it was a revelation. And the 223. ID was therefore strongly urged by Walter Weiß to refocus on the south, in order to defend the positions that were useful to the 8. Armee (namely Ostroh and the road to Rovne).
It is up to the 6. Armee to defend its own area without others doing it for it!
This will be done, of course - the 331. ID will arrive in the afternoon. But these dissensions between formations of the Wehrmacht, as insignificant as they are (Manstein cannot manage everything, and besides he has other worries...) allow however the Red Army to continue to infiltrate towards the west, while seizing the woods on the outskirts of Khoriv. The pocket of the 1st Shock Army, although contained, does not stop swelling - even if Vlassov notes that the resistance is becoming increasingly stiff in the south. Could there be a reason for this?
.........
Sector from Slavuta to Iziaslav and Varyvodky - Indeed, after the traditional fighting along the Horyn - the 4th Guards pushes, the 26th Army provokes, the 5th Guards beats the steel- the Heer formations in the sector suddenly became cautious. Worse, they disengage. The LIX. ArmeeKorps of Kurt von der Chevallerie is among the first to abandon the banks of the Horyn to the 1st Cavalry Corps - to the great amazement of General Kryukov, who did not expect much from his HQ in Slavuta. Then it is the turn of the IX. AK to leave its lines at Mokrets', Mykhniv, Bilohir'ya and Varyvodky. The III. PanzerKorps covers this withdrawal as a good father, without however trying too much to rally the stragglers.
Manstein made his choice - he abandons the Geländer des Todes for the moment in order to save the encircled forces in Bar. Even if the Prussian is well aware that he will be reproached for this later (especially if the rescue fails!), he does not really see any other solution. This maneuver, as planned as it was by some in Moscow (their credit is going to benefit from it, no doubt!) is however a complete surprise at the tactical level, even operational, in both camps. On the German side, the corps commanders had not been prepared, the divisional commanders even less. And on the other side, destabilized by this unexpected withdrawal - the Axis has been fiercely defending the sector for six days already! - the 1st Ukrainian Front loses a little of its means, and gets nervous.
However, the Soviet armored vanguards are going far ahead, supported by all that Sergei Rudenko's 16th Air Force can provide. But the Luftwaffe itself has its instructions for the evacuation of the "Promontory of Death" - the entire JG. 52 intervenes and inflicted a real bloodletting to the planes with the red star, which lose 48 of their own against only 11 fighters (7 pilots recovered, two seriously wounded, one dead and one missing). Gerhard Barkhorn climbed to 172 victories - and the VVS proved unable to significantly hinder the enemy's retreat. As for the pursuit, after a few engagements in Borysiv (where the 7. Panzer gained the time necessary for the withdrawal of 205. ID and 304. ID) and at Shun'ky (where the 6. and 8. Panzer dryly countered the 1st Mechanized Corps of a Solomatin much too pressed by Remezov), Konstantin Rokossovsky does not take long to calm down the ardor of his troops.
Since the plans drawn up by the Stavka start as expected, it is not necessary to attempt to catch the Fascists off guard - any tank lost in the present circumstances will not be used for the final breakthrough. The forces of the sector therefore receive - in a veiled manner and without it being clearly explained - a surprising instruction: to push and press the adversary yes, but to try everything to destroy him no! Officially, it is of course a question of avoiding losses or waste, in anticipation of Rumantsyev's sequel - the leaders will not all be asked to obey.
On the evening of October 4th, the Heer has the situation firmly in hand - and with it the entire area north and west of the Geländer des Todes. The LIX. ArmeeKorps will join its 223. ID - it will crush (or not) the 1st Shock Army before redeploying between Kutyanka and Varyvodky. It is the least tired ArmeeKorps of the area, it is logical that it defends the break area of the bridgehead that was to be created. The IX. AK, for its part, must withdraw towards the north and the Viliya - between Ostroh and Kutyanka, Heinrich Clößner will (perhaps) be able to breathe again. And finally, at the crossroads of this complex maneuver, which Manstein plans to execute, Werner Kempf and his Panzers are going to bring in traffic. All without the Soviets being supposed to object! It is true that, for the moment, they have not tried very hard.
Nevertheless, furious and sensing a good opportunity, Fyodor Remezov prepares a new attack in force of his 5th Guards Army for tomorrow, directed to Mala Borovytsya in order to cut off the Fascists' route. The 13th Guards Rifle Division (Romitsev) will be in the lead. We'll see if it works!
.........
Yampil to Lanivtsi sector- With the arrogance of the master race, the Hohenstaufen and Totenkopf continue to grind Red in the ruins of Lanivtsi, facing Soviet fighters whose struggle looks more and more like a guerrilla war. In this daily life of chaos, where the most absolute baseness is next to the most incredible heroism, the Soviet propaganda will find a crowd of characters worthy of being placed on a pedestal.
Thus, an administrative assistant of the 9th Guards Army - who remained on the West Bank to assist the command in its most routine tasks - will be buried no less than three times in a row in the collapse of her shelter, all in the same day! Extracted from the rubble, she recovers her eternal typewriter, as resistant as she is, before going to work a little further, in a trench still intact... Finally evacuated to the east bank, Klava Kopylova - a red-cheeked Siberian woman with a solid "traditional" constitution - will be made Hero of the Soviet Union. And a member of the Party, by the same occasion.
Against all odds, the Schutzstaffel did not progress as much as expected - it even had to dig in, like its opponent, but only for the night before resuming the fight. Paul Hausser calmly believes that everything will have to be settled tomorrow - willingly and, above all, by force. It's not a strip of 80 hectares that will bother him for much longer. And on the other side, the 9th Guards Army and the 2nd Mechanized Corps are still putting pieces into the machine...
.........
Volotchysk sector - The 3rd Army, now assured of its rear and having transferred a sufficient number of 5th Corps machines to the west bank, attack the 371. ID in the direction of Kachanivka. If Semyon Krivoshein manages to break through here, Hermann Niehoff's recruits, he would then be able to initiate a turning movement to the northwest, in the direction of Ternopol, in order to envelop Pidvolotchysk on its right - and with it, its defenders: including above all the Panzergrenadier GrossDeutschland.
Obviously, this is a bit ambitious... But it nevertheless forces Walter Hörnlein to intervene, as he was preparing to head south with the 132. ID of Fritz Lindemann (detached by the XXVII. ArmeeKorps) - while waiting for the possible arrival of an armored corps arriving from the north. The panzergrenadiers dryly push back the red star armor on their starting line - and even beyond, threatening the survival of the bridgehead itself. However, on direct instruction from Manstein, Hörnlein is forced to recall his pack in the middle of the afternoon, and let the Landsers take over. He must not exhaust himself on secondary tasks, especially on his own initiative! Once again, the leader of the HG Nord-Ukraine must keep the reins short to his impetuous - but precious - motorized troops.
In the evening, the GrossDeutschland disappears towards the south, leaving the infantry to reduce alone an abscess of 2 kilometers by 6.
.........
2nd Ukrainian Front - While waiting for the "decisive reinforcements" promised by the Reich, the forces of the Kingdom of Hungary do not remain inactive. Although they still have to ensure - more or less almost alone... - the holding of the salient pointing to Bar (50 kilometers long and 80 wide), the 4th and 7th Corps prepare a first attempt in the direction of Vasyutyntsi and Zamozhne. These joint maneuvers, involving the 16th ID (Béla Ebesfalvi Lengyal) and the 202. StuG Abt (Major Dr Hans Marder) on the one hand, and the 19th ID (Ferenc Szász) and the 2nd Armored Division (Ferenc Osztovics) on the other hand, are not destined to triumph, except by accident (but the Magyars were not naive enough to hope for this).
No, this experimentation has an operational goal (to test the enemy's defenses in search of weak points) and a political goal (to show that the Hungarians were still a reliable partner for the Reich). Even if, in Budapest, there were more and more open doubts about the Final Victory and the recent funeral of Vice-Regent István Horthy (among many other Hungarians who had fallen for the Axis), did not help matters - for the moment, the regime was still concerned to maintain its propriety vis-à-vis Berlin. A matter of honor - and perhaps of survival.
Especially since, in the meantime, on the other side of the red line, things are getting more and more turbulent.
.........
Bar pocket - Indeed, subjected on their side to a beginning of pressure from the 2nd Shock Army of Kuzma Nikitovich Galitsky, who is eager to triumph, the forces surrounded east of Bar launch a succession of pikes and assaults in the direction of Zamozhne, Popivtsi and Mytky. These attacks arenot coordinated with the future operations of the Heer - and even less with those of the Hungarians. Erwin Jaenecke and Rudolf Konrad have little hope of breaking through. However, they hope to give themselves some breathing space to maneuver, and (who knows?) stumble upon a miraculous opportunity to exploit, unearthed on the basis of last night's reconnaissance.
Jaenecke, although obviously disciplined, remains on the lookout for the slightest opening. According to his estimates, he will be able to extend the available supplies for the IV. AK and XLIX. AK to two weeks - by rationing food and ammunition (this was planned), but above all by limiting operations, even by slaughtering the horses. He had the choice between staying put and slowly agonize, hoping for a helping hand, or to get restless and risk collapsing faster, hoping however to get through by force. Unfortunately for him, the delay Arnim announces for the rescue operation (a week at best) does not help him to make a decision - not to mention the abstruse instructions of "fanatical defense" regularly sent by Rastenburg, or the speeches of the radio, which already boasts about the heroism of the easternmost defenders of the Ukraine.
For today, the German operations, although promising in Noskivtsi - which is not on a direct escape route - will stop after one or two kilometers. Ivan Bagramyan had the time to fortify the main axes and calmly rolls his tanks from one hot spot to another. On the German side, they save themselves to see what happens. The next few days already look rough in the Kessel.

Fate and memories of General Vatutin
"General Nikolai Vatutin was to die in the main clinic in Kiev on November 14th, 1943, having developed gas gangrene (diagnosed on October 26th) and despite an operation performed by Nikolai Nilovich Burdenko himself - the chief surgeon of the Red Army. Contrary to what some have written, many things were tried to save him, Professor Shamov even proposed amputation of the right leg as a last resort - a solution refused by the patient but which (according to several sources) was nevertheless carried out, in vain.
It is therefore clear that Vatutin's death was anything but provoked - in any case, it is hard to see what the regime would have gained by getting rid of one of its best generals in the middle of an offensive. And even if it had wanted to, it did not need to make him agonize 45 days in hospital, with his best practitioners at his bedside... Ironically, the Soviet general fell victim to the same syndrome that had taken the life of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague - war and destiny! His funeral with great pomp in the Mariinsky park in Kiev**** was obviously the starting point of a vast Stalinist campaign to valorize the martyrdom of the Red Army fighters who heroically gave their lives to defend Ukraine against the fascist invasion.
On January 25th, 1948, the sculptor Evgeny Viktorovich Vuchetich erected a monumental statue on the tomb of the general. Museums, streets, busts and monuments dedicated to Vatutin flourished throughout the Union - even several ships were named after him*****. His house in Chepukhino (now Vatutino!) was turned into a museum - the general was a symbol for the regime to consolidate its influence on the Ukrainian SSR. However, this memorial tribute - obviously anything but disinterested! - was to come to a sudden halt with the break-up of the USSR.
From war hero, Vatutin became at once for Kiev - at his own expense - the symbol of an oppressive regime that, at best, exploited Ukraine for too many years and, at worst, attempted to exterminate its population. Elena Vatutin, daughter of the general, was not mistaken when, in May 2015, she asked in vain for the transfer of her father's ashes to the federal military cemetery in Mytishchi (north of Moscow). In 2016, when the new Ukrainian government adopted a policy of conciliatory memorial policy towards the UNO-M, Vatutin's statue was regularly vandalized by local ultranationalist movements, with signs "Executioner killed by patriots" or by spilling blood-red paint... It was the same, other memorials dedicated to the general (the one in Berdichev was destroyed in March 2018).
It must be recognized that the memory of the general did not bring back only good memories. The repression by the NKVD and the Smersh of nationalist movements and neighboring populations of the attack was particularly ferocious. The figure of 25,000 arrests and deportations is commonly advanced - for lack of reliable sources, and especially because of the contemporary instrumentalization of history, the extent of the reprisals is still a matter of debate. At most, we can say with certainty that in October 1943, western Ukraine was far from the war between the Reich and the USSR or between the UNO, the UPA and the control bodies of the Stalinist regime.
Beyond these painful controversies, what to conclude about the reality of Nikolai Vatutin's military talent, sometimes elevated to the pinnacle by the propaganda, sometimes outrageously depreciated by American historians too much influenced by the memoirs of some German generals (and first of all Manstein)? If the person concerned had not kept his position thanks to his merit alone: this merit was real, and had allowed him to obtain the position in question in the first place. If he, the most brilliant of the Red Army's generals, he was undoubtedly one of its most capable leaders. His performances testify to this.
Thus, in 2010, Robert Forczyk - a recognized expert in military history and armored combat - wrote******: "In front of Kiev, Vatutin had managed to stop Manstein's armored vanguards well before their objectives, before going on a counter-offensive that shook the German front. Vatutin had surprised the Germans at Korosten, then had largely maneuvered his opponents south of Olevsk. Then, trying to demonstrate his great flexibility, he had attempted a maneuver towards Sarny, which could not be completed.
Although he did not succeed in breaking through the lines of the 3. PanzerArmee at Olevsk, the fault does not lie with him alone. Kutousov's bastardized conception and the lack of support from Rodion Malinovsky's 3rd Belorussian Front played an equally important role in this setback and we know today that the battle of Olevsk deprived the HG Nord-Ukraine of many of its reserves, which would have been very useful further south to prevent the formation of the Bar pocket.
Had he not been killed at Matiivka, General Nikolai Vatutin would have, without a doubt, played a great role in the final collapse of the Wehrmacht in Ukraine. But no matter - by his inflexible defense against Zitadelle, he had demonstrated that Manstein's Bewegungskrieg******* did not work against a determined opponent like the Red Army, and that the latter had a number of commanders capable - in 1943 as well as later - of carrying out maneuvers that could defeat all German generals, including Manstein.
Sixty-seven years after his death, with the hindsight of time and the opening of archives, History judges that Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutin posthumously triumphed over his opponent."
(Robert Stan Pratsky and Waitman Wade Beorn, Descent into Darkness: the Fight for Belarus and Ukraine - Harvard University Press, 2014 - expanded edition in 2020).

* Chuikov was wounded four times during the civil war!
** Chuikov largely contributed to the maintenance (at least theoretically) of the Chinese united front between the CCP and the Kuo-Min-Tang while he was military attaché in China from 1940 to 1942. He left this post at his own request to go to defend the Rodina in May 1942.
*** Propaganda film close to historical reconstruction, shot just after the events and which fascinated many, so well that the Soviet public believed for a long time that it was not a staged film.
**** In the presence of Vatutin's poor mother, Vera Yefimovna, who was to lose her two other sons, Afanasy Fyodorovich and Semyon Fyodorovich, in the following two months.
***** Including the liner General Vatutin, which was to explode in 1947 in the port of Magadan, killing its entire crew...
****** In his book Erich von Manstein: Leadership and Conflict Strategy.
******* German term for a maneuver designed to defeat the enemy by paralyzing his chain of command by shock and disruption - what the Americans later called Shock and Awe.
 
04/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 4th, 1943

Italian campaign
Northern Italy
- If everything is calm on the Italian front, it is not the same on the German rear. Indeed, the 15. SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer SS, reinforced by the 12. SS Polizei-Rgt (sinisterly known since the events in Turin), deploys between Verona and Trento in order to eradicate all partisan activity in the area. This valley, which goes up to the Brenner Pass, was vital for the Germans, as almost all the supplies for the Italian front passed through there. It is out of the question to let the slightest resistance develop in the valley.
Methodically, the Germans move up the valley and explore the banks of Lake Garda. They carry out numerous searches among the farms and in the various villages of the region. The police regiment operates in the Verona area.

Greek & Balkan Campaign
The redeployments continue on the front, which remains unusually calm. Apart from the traditional patrols and aerial reconnaissance, there is nothing to report.

The Devil's Division
Albanian-Montenegrin border
- Assuring, according to Hellmuth Felmy's wish, the security of the rear of the LXVIII. Armee-Korps and the supply line between Shkodër and Podgorica, the men of the 369. ID Vražja divizija (Marko Mesić) are ambushed in a particularly well-prepared ambush - possibly by the men of the Kryeziu brothers. The Ustasha left about fifty dead and as many wounded on the ground, many of them wounded, many of whom were killed with knives and emasculated (not always in this order).
Furious at this act of barbarism, a field in which they thought they had exclusive rights, the Axis auxiliaries do not hesitate to outbid each other. Landing near the road junction of Hani i Hotit, they hastily gather the two hundred or so inhabitants of the area. Then, after having taken advantage of the charms of the few women of the group, they lock everyone in several houses before throwing grenades through the windows. The buildings are then set on fire - just in case.
 
04/10/43 - France
October 4th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
Alps
- Under pressure from the 4th BMLE and the 21st RI, the 297 GbJg Rgt withdraws to a new line of defense between Beaurière and Beaumont en Diois. On its left flank, the 50th RI fights all day without succeeding in taking Bellegarde en Diois. The Germans slowly retreat and make the French pay dearly for every meter of progress.
A little to the east, the Gruppo Aosta pulls itself together and withdraws in good order to the south of Lus la Croix-Haute, with the 5th Infantry Regiment of the 10th DI on its heels. During this time, the 11th and 13th BCA clean the Durbon forest and the surroundings of La Cluze. The Gruppo Bergamo, retreats into the massif to control the Souboise pass. This agitation forces the Monterosa to completely revise its position: the French Alpini had seriously upset this division, which had just been installed in improvised positions. Thus, the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Regimento has to redeploy to move up around the Sautet dam. In this sector, the 15th BCA also spent the day in mopping-up operations, while the 24th BCA opens up and joins the 4th Chasseurs at St-Eusèbe en Champsaur. In fact, the division is cut in two. To the south of the device, the 2nd Regimento counter-attack the vanguards of the 22nd BCA and manage to break free. It then reestablished itself as a hedgehog around Embrun.
Further south, faced with the retreat of the Italians and the threat to Barcelonnette, the 904. Rgt of the 188. Gebirgs Division repositions itself towards Jausiers, while the 903. Rgt holds off the Moroccans in the Ubaye valley to keep the door open on this side.

The paratroopers of Dieulefit
Provence
- The day begins with a powerful artillery barrage, followed shortly afterwards by the roar of the ground support squadrons. It was an attack on almost the entire width of the front, with the 1st and 3rd armoured divisions, the 14th ID and the 3rd DIM.
In the east, the 6th RTS, accompanied by tanks of the I/7 RCA, progresses slowly towards Bouvières, at the crossing of the D70 and D335. It ia a difficult fight in which the tanks are mainly used as mobile artillery, because the Gebirgsjägers of the 296. Rgt held the mountain heights of the Vesc mountain.
In the center, the 3rd RTM and 21st RZ attack in a pincer movement towards the Roche Saint-Secret, through the Lance mountain to cut the D130 towards Montjoux. Their objective of the attack is Dieulefit, which would provide an entry point to the cauldron at the level of the Bégude de Mazenc. The two regiments would find on their way the Fallschirmjagers of the 6. and 7. Rgt, well supported by their artillery.
Further west, the 14th DI and the armored divisions encounter the Fallschirmjagers of the 2. Rgt, reinforced by several 88 batteries, and Panzergrenadiers of the 14. SS PzGr and the 16. Panzer, reinforced by battalions of assault guns (Sturmgeschutz) or tank hunters (Panzerjägers) of their divisions. In this sector, immediately south of Montélimar, the day ends with a stalemate; everyone remained in their positions.

Reinforcements
Languedoc
- In view of the logistical difficulties linked to the replenishment of the 1st Armored Division, which is still in progress of transfer, General Clark has to agree to part with another of his smaller units, the 601st Tank Destroyer Btn. This one lands at La Ciotat and is deployed in the Montpellier sector alongside the 10th RTR.
If the landing of the 601st was done so far from the front, it is because the installations of the Gulf of Fos and the surrounding area are congested with the arrival of the first elements of the 3rd Armored Division.
 
05/10/43 - Northern Europe
October 5th, 1943

Ligescourt/Bois de Saint-Saulve
- The first attack of the B-26 Marauder of the 12th AF targets this small village of the Somme, where there are no less than three sites in a restricted perimeter. This concentration increased the chances of the American bombers, who pound the area with efficiency: the Germans quickly abandon the area.
.........
Surcamps-Flixecourt (Somme) - On this autumn evening, in the place called "Bois du Coroy", not far from the ancient Roman road of Brunehaut, the sixty or so Frenchmen enrolled by the Todt organization, prisoners or coming from the STO, are walking back to their barracks, exhausted by a long day of hard work on top of the previous ones, while the German civilians who were with them during the day, drove back to the castle of Vauchelles-lès-Domart. The night is beautiful and clear with the moon in its first quarter. Everything is quiet, far from the terrifying rumblings that shake the south of France.
Quiet? Not so sure... Twenty thousand feet higher up in the northwest, the Merlin engines of the twenty-seven Avro Lancasters of Sqn 617 Dambusters, the famous dam busters. One might be surprised to see these glorious crews en route for a "simple" bombing mission at an unusual altitude for them, who are used to flying at low altitude. It is in fact a kind of evaluation intended to validate the release of the new Tallboy bombs of the engineer Barnes Wallis, designed to demolish a reinforced concrete structure by penetrating the ground at high speed before exploding and causing a devastating mini-earthquake. The problem is that the bomb must be dropped from 20,000 feet, which is easy, but it must also hit within 12 meters of the target to be effective. This condition generates tense conversations between Wallis and Leonard Cheshire, the new (and young) Wing Commander of the 617 since October, the latter stressing the difficulty of obtaining precision from such an altitude, the first advising the second to learn his job...
In these conditions, the best solution is to try it on the ground.
22:15 - The group's Lancaster pathfinder, also operating at 20,000 feet, drops its flare marker on the target, or supposed target. Cheshire's in the lead, the other four-engine aircraft drop their destructive cargo. The result is a failure: no bomb reaches the target. But it is not the fault of the bombers: the next day's reco-photo, taken at low altitude, shows that all the bombs fell less than a hundred meters from the phosphorescent marker... But that this one is located at 350m from the target !
It is thus on the marking that it is advisable to carry the effort. This will soon become the specialty of Cheshire himself, to the point that he will end the war by marking the targets on board a Mustang !
 
05/10/43 - Diplomacy & Economy
October 5th, 1943

Dihua (Xinjiang)
- One year to the day after the memorandum sent by Sheng Shicai to the consul Pushkin, the last Soviet troops leave the province with great pomp. This is another provocation, thinks the governor (who is not necessarily wrong). Nevertheless, as the last elements of the famous Eighth Regiment board their trucks, the Chinese hope that this departure would mark the end of a period of particularly painful tensions with the Soviets.
Indeed, the leaders of the KMT received these last months a good half-dozen complaints from Marshal Shaposhnikov himself about the attitude of Sheng Shicai, who was accused of seriously hindering the evacuation of Soviet troops, and therefore the implementation of the Imphal agreements - in reality, the Soviets dragged things out to test the Chinese as much as possible, especially since Moscow is determined not to spare any vexation to the former puppet who wanted to live his life.
Finally, Chongqing chose to react and a few days ago issued an official complaint - the second since the beginning of the year - against the intimidation by the Red Army. The Chinese government demands that Moscow "stop violating the airspace of the Republic of China by repeated incursions of its aircraft into Chinese airspace, well beyond the Sino-Soviet border". Moreover, he protests against the repeated movement of troops and armored vehicles along this border. In fact, the men of the 105th DC had a field day, in full view of the Chinese border guards, so that they could make a detailed report to Chongqing. This did not help to ease Soviet-Chinese relations!
This is why, when the Soviet trucks leave, the atmosphere is festive in Dihua. But the satisfaction is going to fall somewhat when one realizes that all the places left by the Soviets were completely emptied of all that could be transported. The famous oil fields, for example, which the KMT already saw as a source of fuel for large-scale mechanized offensives or as a source of precious foreign currency for export, are unusable: long months of work will be necessary before months of work will be necessary before normal operations can be resumed...
But Sheng has other reasons to worry. Tonight, with the Soviets gone, in the middle of his small courtyard where the faces of his trusted men are increasingly replaced by those of KMT loyalists, the governor begins to feel quite isolated... He reassures himself by telling himself that his former friends still have a foot in the place, with the Soviet consulate (which was, until recently, the real nerve center of Xinjiang) and the Dihua aeronautical factory. So far, so good.
 
05/10/43 - Occupied Countries
October 5th, 1943

Bucharest
- The recent (but discreet) peace overtures to the United Nations - from both the Conducator and the National Democratic Bloc - have an unpleasant but predictable consequence on the part of the Westerners. The latter have in fact just sent a public ultimatum to Romania, enjoining it to "break off without delay with the Axis and to capitulate unconditionally, as Italy has done"!
If Bucharest hoped to be able to negotiate a separate status, it has had its fill. Only the terms of the surrender are debatable... Obviously, the Romanians are not completely fooled: the Westerners feel they are in a position of strength, they puff up their chests for the press and ask for more than they really want to get... The Kingdom of Italy has managed to go from being an enemy to a cobelligerent in a single Christmas Eve, why should it be different for the kingdom of Romania? Especially with the Russians at the gates, who will probably not want to assume alone the consequences of the stubbornness of some capitalists.
Yes, there is certainly still room for an arrangement. But still, this new pressure from those who we hope will become the new friends of Romania is causing a stir in the Kingdom's ruling circles and is very much troubling some spirits.
Thus, at the stroke of noon, King Michael and Ion Antonescu happen to meet for a working lunch. The Conducator is less contemptuous than formerly towards the sovereign, perhaps he is even informed about the recent actions of the National Democratic Bloc and is trying to create a form of rapprochement aimed at creating national unity? But under his authority, of course... In any case, it is wasted: between the two men, under the blow of the tension and the accumulated resentment, the interview turns quickly to assaults of criticisms, doubled of exchanges of recriminations.
Faced with a King Michael who almost accuses him of privileging his links with Berlin to the interest of his own country, Antonescu braces himself and multiplies in turn the piques towards "Your Majesty, so concerned about the fate of the state that she never supported me during the dark hours of 1940... and never criticized me as much as since our army is taking defeats. " There is some truth in this - even if Antonescu purposely forgets that he himself has contributed to this. The Conducator claims to govern alone for the common good? "It is up to you to assume these setbacks, since you are the main architect of them", the King can argue.
Finally, in front of a marshal who was still as stubborn as ever about his personal authority - and the stomach cramps that tormented him did not improve his mood, nor his presence - Michael ends up asking openly "that a new administration take responsibility for governing, from now on and for peace". An administration in which, in all likelihood, he would find his place...
But, drama of politics! In addition to their dissensions and their obvious enmity, the two men cannot risk informing each other of their plans to get the country out of the conflict (it is even probable that Michel ignores all the steps in progress in Stockholm!), let alone trust each other. The Siguranța is on the prowl, the Wehrmacht too!
Antonescu therefore retorts to the king that he alone remains the judge of the country's foreign policy, which he conducts to the best of his ability for the common good. Impossible - officially still - to break with the Axis, for reasons of honor as well as pragmatism. "In this case, your failure in this matter is total. I therefore invite you to resign - for the common good, which you so rightly evoke." Michael will not wait for dessert to leave the table.

Târgu Jiu camp (near Oltenia, Little Wallachia) - In its prison in the far south of Romania - that is, far from the front line as well as from the Soviets... - Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej receives news from his relatives. They have recently had some difficulties, it seems - notably about a litigious inheritance. Nothing surprising in these times. But fortunately, everything seems to be settled already...
Indeed, the letter - arrived in his cell thanks to the good care of more or less corrupted guards - states: "Thanks to our meticulous preparation, the action was quick and decisive. In three hours, the inheritance was given to us, while the head of the family, his wife and the friend of the house were transferred to a good sanatorium. At 11 p.m. we placed the keys and the whole family fortune into the hands of our good friend, the oldest and cleverest of us all here, now the mainstay of the family."
Well... Gheorghiu-Dej already knows that the one writing this cryptic letter is actually Emil Bodnăraș. The legacy is the Party and its archives, including the list of members and caches. The head of the family, Foriș obviously, and his wife Victoria Sârbu. The friend of the house, no doubt Remus Koffler, his assistant and archivist. Too bad, it was he who once initiated Gheorghiu-Dej to communism in Dolftana prison. Finally, he is not dead: all this mess is now in a sanatorium - presumably double-locked, with armed men at the entrance. And the business is now run by the oldest and most skilled (nice for him, that) - Constantin Pârvulescu for sure.
What good news! The Red Army is at the gates of the country, and the Party is finally back on the right track. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej massages his temples, risks a smile and settles more comfortably in his chair. He looks outside through the barred window of his cell: the weather is nice for October and the sparrows are singing. Yes, soon he will be outside...
 
05/10/43 - Asia & Pacific
October 5th, 1943

Burma Campaign
Burma Coast
- During the day, the Japanese have the opportunity to admire (for the moment, without loss) a new RAF bird on a Rhubarb mission, the Beaufighter IF. The night fighter Beaufighter VI NFs of Sqn 176 were already operating in coverage of Rangoon and Imphal, but the surrender of Italy made it possible to send two flights of Beaufighter IFs, long-range day fighters (the Beaufighter had only made a short - but noticeable - appearance in this theater in December 1941, around Singapore).

Operation Tigertooth
Western border of Thailand
- Today the northern column is regrouping. The motto of the day is to stay hidden until the next day, which will allow the exhausted men to rest and the medical echelon to fulfill its mission. Further south, the two other columns now advance into Thai territory: their objective, called Trafalgar Square, is north of Tha Sao. The aim was to cut off this Japanese supply route and to do maximum damage to the railroad.
The Japanese elements that had caught the previous day's C column seem to have given up. In fact, they remain on the north-south road, on the Burmese side of the border, or return to the coast.

Bangkok, 11:00 - The Sino-American bombers and their escort return to the charge. The Thai flak gunners, falling from fatigue, serve their guns with weird gestures, in the hope that a lucky shell will manage to smash one of the abominable metallic birds.
This time, a dozen Ki-43 fighters reinforced by six Ki-44s - the flower of Thai fighter - reaches the altitude of the bombers as they are leaving for China. But eighteen P-51s interfere (those of the 75th FS were reinforced by eight P-51 of the GC III/40). Two Nakajimas manage to get out of the melee and charge at the four-engine boxes, indifferent to the wall of fire by two hundred Browning .50s. The first one, a Hayabusa, is shredded quickly. The second one, a Shoki, firing continuously, manage a frontal pass on a B-17; the Chinese bomber, struck by lightning, crashes - scandal! - not far from the royal palace.
At the rear of the allied formation, two Ki-43s attacked a delayed Liberator, one of whose engines has broken down. Spinning around like a pair of angry hornets, they strafe it until one of the Nakajimas slams its wing into the left wing of the B-24. The Thai pilot managed to parachute out, but the American crew did not, whose plane crashes near Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) without harm to the monument.
Meanwhile, the other Thai fighters, after having lost four of theirs in exchange for a single Mustang, leave the scene of the battle. On their way back to their base, they find that the capital city seems to have been hit by two giant fire demons.
Around the harbor and the train station, two infernos are blazing wildly, seemingly indifferent to the relentless efforts of the firemen and volunteers trying to contain them. Many inhabitants trapped by the flames take refuge along the banks of the Chao Phraya, hoping to find a safe shelter, but panic movements provoke crushes where unfortunate people end up trampled or drowned.
In the hearts of the spared inhabitants, anger and resentment gradually creep in: towards the "Farangs" who were attacking their city for no apparent reason, towards the Japanese whose thirst for conquest caused the ruin and destruction of their country, but also and especially towards the government and its Prime Minister, unable to defend them!
.........
22:00 - The sirens of the civil alarm panic the inhabitants, then the bombs begin to fall on the port district. The electricity is cut off in the streets, but this measure had little effect on the accuracy of the bombings, because some fires set the day before or the morning of the attack are still not extinguished, making it easier for the Halifax.
However, fewer bombs hit the capital than the night before. Indeed, the Wellingtons that accompanied the Halifaxes the night before were replaced by C-47s, which leave the bombers after crossing the border to drop supplies to Wingate's brigade.

Indochina Campaign
Laos
- Enraged by the slowness of his advance, constantly hampered by skirmishes against opponents so despicable that they ran away each time, General Yuzo Matsuyama, commander of the 56th Infantry Division of the Imperial Army, decides to take exceptional measures. In the previous days, he had requisitioned many ships to form a strong vanguard going to reach Vientiane via the Mekong River!
The squadron thus assembled is most picturesque. Sampans and light junks surround a large motor barge, taken from the hated Colonizers in a hard fight. This improvised flagship carries most of the expedition's equipment, but only the ammunition has made it into the hold. The boxes of foodstuffs and various materials have been piled up along the railings, turning the ship into a floating fortress. FM's are poking out from between the crates and the foredeck is home to tanks filled with sand that will allow the mortars to be used without burning the wooden deck.
Embarkation takes most of the day and the boats finally set sail around 16:00.

Sino-Japanese war
Setting up
Jiangxi
- On the orders of General Wang Lingji (30th Army), Generals Xu Wenyao (27th Division) and Zheng Dongguo (200th Armored Division) order their troops to move east and concentrate in front of the Japanese lines, just in front of Xinyu.
 
Looking at the Eastern Front, it seems to me that currently it's Stalin rather than the Germans themselves that's the greatest hindrance to the Soviet war effort. With the situation in 1942 having been nowhere near as desperate as it could have been - with the Germans already stopped at Smolensk, and with them also failing to take Kiev - it looks like Stalin is bolder and more encouraged to take a "hands-on" approach in directing the various Fronts and Armies, rather than letting Zhukov, Rokossovsky et al. have (relatively) free rein, resulting in the Soviets conducting fruitless offensives for high cost and little gain. It's not enough to doom the Soviets, of course, but it does mean that they'll be sustaining more losses than necessary, not that Stalin would care.
 
05/10/43 - Eastern Front, Battle of Velyka Borovytsya
October 5th, 1943

Operation Rumyantsev
The lid is on the pot
Ostroh sector
- Bad day for Andrei Vlassov and his 1st Shock Army.
After having been tolerated for a long time, due to lack of resources and will, his bridgehead north of Ostroh suddenly becomes the target of the coordinated efforts of almost the entire LIX. ArmeeKorps, reinforced by a formation of the 6. Armee (the 331. ID).
Although he was himself strongly pressed on his rear, Kurt von der Chevallerie receives from Walter Weiß a clear instruction: to destroy the red bridgehead in the north of the future Manstein line, in order to relieve the IX. AK, which had to take over this position.
It is obvious that Heinrich Clößner will not have the means to expel the Reds who have passed on this side of the Horyn - to LIV. AK, therefore, to take care of it before going further south.
The attack is carried out with the support of the Stukas of the StG. 77 - a real advantage: the Russians are not used to see planes with black crosses anymore, and those with red stars are elsewhere. In spite of the visible improvisation of the German assaults, Vlassov is pushed back in the direction of Khoriv and Brodivs'ke, where the woods and the hesitations of the 331. ID finally make the advance stall. Von der Chevallerie does not insist: almost 8 km in one morning, that's not bad! Especially for a formation in full redeployment, and not really used to the offensive. The LIX. AK rejects the adversary to the north - it did not eliminated him, it is true, but his time is precious. And for what remains, it is now the problem of the 6. Armee - that it manages to eliminate the residues in its sector on its own.
Kurt von der Chevallerie's corps served the Reich well. As a price for his stubborn defense of Ostroh at the head of his 223. ID, Christian Usinger is made a knight of the Iron Cross. And this is perhaps only the beginning, if by any chance places were to become available.
.........
Sector from Slavuta to Varyvodky - Battle of Velyka Borovytsya - The 1st Ukrainian Front seizes the Geländer des Todes, obligingly abandoned by the 8. Armee, as planned in Kovel ... and in Moscow.
In the northeast, the 1st Armored Corps, coming from Borysiv, continues to push, with the support of the 1st Cavalry Corps, which crosses at Slavuta. Chanchibadze tries to envelop the 7. Panzer of von Funck, which always ensures - to his great discontent - the rear guard of the LIX. AK. Now that the 4th Guards Army is present in numbers on the west bank, the 1st AC can charge forward without fearing for its flanks. However, despite an obvious numerical inferiority, the Panzermänner keep the tactical control of the confrontation, multiplying the ambushes and drawer defenses while methodically falling back in the direction of Plujn and then to M'yakoty. At this level, the 7. Panzer halted: it had to hold on a little longer before heading west to join its corps. Time for the infantry of the LIX. AK to pass from Ostroh... And then it is not too difficult: in front, the T-34 are very dispersed.
However, that does not console von Funck, who would prefer to go to support his corps to participate in the melee around Velyka Borovytsya.
Indeed, on his right, between Shun'ky and Mala Borovytsya, it is another matter. Whipped by the rage of Fyodor Remezov, the 5th Guards Army vigorously attacks on a wide front. The Soviet general brought together the 4th Armored Corps (A.G. Kravchenko) and the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps (N.S. Oslikovski), then throws them forward to outflank the III. PanzerKorps, cut the road to Der Chevallerie and catch up with the IX. AK in open country.
No doubt the 26th Army was too far away to act and the 1st Guards AC is still crossing the Horyn - nevertheless, Remezov considers that the opportunity is really too good to be neglected.
In doing so, he ignores the instructions of (relative) caution issued by his hierarchy, and neglects the reality of the armored troops that support him. Andrei Kravchenko only commands a worn-out formation, and Nikolai Oslikovski only lines up light T-50s as well as T-34s of the first generation.
After a first moment of hesitation, during which he feared to be enveloped by the Red tanks, Kempf reacts with control and composure. Retreating his center - held by the 6. Panzer of Walther von Hünersdorff with the support of... three Tiger of Kühn - in the direction of Mala Borovytsya, he suddenly reared up at Velyka Borovytsya and launches his 8. Panzer (Sebastian Fichtner) on his right, against the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps. Fichtner does not hesitate to cut the intruders to pieces, even if he regretted a little not being the beneficiary of the surviving Tigers*.
The 5th Guards, despite the many friendly aircraft that supported them, are now in danger of being flanked. It is still stuck in Velyka Borovytsya while, on its right, the 4th Armored Corps is itself stopped by a strong counter-attack of panzergrenadiers, supported by the 311. StuG Abt of Hauptmann von Schönau. For a moment, the panic seems to take hold of the Soviet staff.
However, Sebastian Fichtner does not push his advantage and stops well before Shun'ky, missing a decisive encirclement. At least that is what some people in Rastenburg - the interested party retorted that with only one weakened division, with only one weakened division, he would not pretend to trap 90,000 Russians alone... At all times, the commander of the 8. Panzer has always shown an unusual respect for his opponent - some call it realism, or prudence. Others would more readily call this mood defeatism, or even "pro-Soviet friendliness". In the Heer of the Thousand-Year Reich, one is not supposed to respect subhumans - let alone admire them. Fichtner's reservation is therefore duly noted in certain offices and added to a file that grew thicker as the real leaden blanket falls on the German forces.
In any case, the pragmatism of the 8. Panzer, coupled with the stubborn resistance of the communist infantry, did the rest. At Velyka Borovytsya, the 6. Panzer finally gets bogged down in a thick melee and, instead of counter-attacking as planned, has to hold on under the bombs - Karl-Ludwig von Schönau alone is obviously unable to clear it.
To find a solution without wearing out his troops, Kempf calls in the Luftwaffe. His Stukas occupied elsewhere, the Luftwaffe dispatches some forty Heinkel 111 of KG. 55 covered by Fw 190 of III/JG. 51. The attack, set up in the precipitation, is then confronted with many Falcons of Stalin, which take 12 bombers and 5 fighters against 27 of theirs. But the worst is that the bombs miss and hit the headquarters of the 6. Panzer, killing or wounding many officers and disrupting communications. Walther von Hünersdorff himself is slightly hit when his car is sprayed with shrapnel. Getting out of the wreckage while swearing and cursing, he takes his place without waiting in another vehicle, which leads him to the front... where a communist gunman sees his high hat coming from afar and puts a bullet in his head. Evacuated in a desperate state from the battlefield, he finally died a week later in the hospital in Kovel. And in the meantime, he leaves his division without a commander, which will allow the 5th Guards Army to consolidate its hard-won advance.
The evening thus falls on a more than mixed assessment for the two combatants. On the German side, Werner Kempf held his positions and covered the movements of the LIX. AK and the IX. AK.
But he is far from having triumphed, like Rommel in front of Vitebsk, and has once again lost a chunk his panzers in the affair (even if this time, the fight had a tangible stake). The 8. Armee does not repeat its "Cannae" in Ukraine. On the Soviet side, we take note of the more than sensitive losses unnecessarily undergone, by promising to speak again about the Remezov case later. The "Promontory of Death" has already cost too much for us to try again to wrestle it from the hands of an enemy who is now evacuating it - the German infantry will complete its maneuver in the night in a (relative) quietness.
.........
Yampil and Lanivtsi sector - End of game for the 9th Guards Army elements entrenched in Lanivtsi, definitively driven out of the ruins of the city by a Schutzstaffel proud of its success. The last Soviets are flushed out with flamethrowers or grenades, and their shelters reduced one after the other. There are very few prisoners (especially since they know what awaits most of those who surrender to the SS, especially after having resisted them so long).
Paul Hausser, however, hurriedly removes his trophy and hands it over to the 125. ID (Wilhelm Schneckenburger). The SS has done its duty, now it is up to the Heer to hold the front line, under the shells raining down from the other side. In fact, the II. SS-PanzerKorps would be happy to leave south, to accomplish a glorious and decisive task in Bar, while others are guarding the Horyn river. For his part, Manstein is satisfied - as this armored corps is still his most motivated and least worn formation, it is more than likely that he will grant this wish. As for the Lanivtsi sector, it is obvious that nothing more will happen there - even if some pockets of communist resistance have survived and are now hiding between villages and ponds.
.........
Volotchysk sector - Without a massive and determined intervention like the one of the day before, the struggle subsides a little. Of course, the Wehrmacht would gladly chase the red vermin from the south of Pidvolochysk, to finally close the file of this breakthrough which poisons it since Khmilnyk. But here it is: deprived of the GrossDeutschland and a division of the XXVII. AK,
Walter Weiß has to be patient. In fact, most of his attention is devoted to the ongoing events on the Geländer des Todes...
The 371. ID (Hermann Niehoff) and 141. ID (Heinz Hellmich) advance eastward, straight towards the Horyn, to push back the 3rd Army and the 5th Armored Corps. The latter, for once in defense, are at ease on this terrain, certainly agricultural, but integrating a large valley towards Chernylivka and Orikhovets' - the Russians can thus retaliate against the slope while their artillery continues to fire from the opposite bank. As a result, the German action will not progress more than 500 meters.
.........
2nd Ukrainian Front - The Hungarian attempts towards Vasyutyntsi and Zamozhne start as planned in the morning. As expected, they arerejected in the middle of the afternoon, despite some initial progress - especially in the north, where the 16th ID collaborates very effectively with the German self-propelled guns. However, the successive interventions of the 16th Armored Corps (A.I. Getman) and of the 3rd Armored Corps (V.M. Badanov) make the task of the Magyar infantrymen far too sacrificial for the benefit that can be drawn from it.
On the other hand, on the southern side, an incident takes place between Colonel Ferenc Szász (19th ID) and his counterpart Ferenc Osztovics, of the 2nd AD. The former reproached the latter for a certain lack of energy, or even a kind of reserve. Szász, who was close to the Arrow Crosses and had already been involved in several anti-Jewish actions, had obviously taken the cue from his Nazi masters. This is in contrast to Osztovics, who would prefer a "Hungarian-centric" policy... or even neutralist policy, if he were asked. The lack of understanding between the two leaders is perhaps not for nothing in the failure of the joint action of their units. In Budapest, one can only hope that such fractures in the Magyar army will not get worse.
.........
Bar pocket - First parachute drops (finally!) in the Kessel. The Luftwaffe sent all the Junkers 52 and unused Heinkel 111. There are also SM. 81 Marsupial seized during the Italian turnaround and even one or two LeO 451, captured damaged in 1940 and laboriously repaired since.
The first wave of transports, carried out by Transportgeschwader 4 (Oberst Richard Kupschus) deliver a total of 67 tons to the encircled. This is not much - and yet the weather and the VVS did not give much (7 transports shot down, plus 4 Bf 109 escorts provided by IV/JG. 54).
Two days ago, Erwin Jaenecke and Rudolf Konrad estimated that - in order not to deplete their reserves while maintaining a normal combat capability - their forces needed 275 tons per day, with an absolute minimum of 160 tons. This represents about 80 Junkers 52 rotations... if they could land. But they can't, so they have to parachute. As a result, the containers are scattered, lost, or even recovered by the enemy.
In order to try to give a little more strength to its effort, the Luftwaffe tried the following days to mobilize a larger number of aircraft (up to Heinkel 177s, however much more valuable for other tasks) - but in vain. It is true that it only has two operational transport squadrons (the TG1 and TG4) and that one of them was already mobilized on the Western Front, assigned to the most urgent transfers...
For the glorious defenders of the Reich, stuck in their Kessel, all this does not seem very reassuring.

Region of Suceava (sector of the 17. Armee) - After having still been much hounded by the OKH - and especially by Keitel, who is unaware of the state of relations between Berlin and Bucharest, as well as the last attempts of the Antonescu regime - the 17. Armee of Karl-Adolf Hollidt finally makes available to the HG NordUkraine an army detachment (Armee Abteilung) composed of three infantry divisions: the 328. ID (Hans Kissel, XLVIII. AK), the 321. ID (Wilhelm Thomas, LIV. AK) and the 333. ID (Erwin Menny, army reserve). This force is under the command of Hans Kissel, the most experienced and decorated general of the three. It is therefore named Armee Abt Kissel - or KampfGruppe Kissel, as the case may be.
Even if it was not really targeted by the communist offensives of this summer - which rather hit its neighbors to the north and south - the 17. Armee is not in very good shape. In fact, with its modest three corps and one reserve division (plus a StuG Abt), it would even be at the bottom of its organic strength. Not really a priority in the allocation of reinforcements, but not really threatened either (the Carpathians form an impressive natural barrier, doubled by several rivers in front of them), this formation has to assume an increasing share of the tasks of its neighbor the 11. Armee (Georg-Hans Reinhardt) - which itself has to hold a reconstituted Romanian army at arm's length. It is understandable that List and Hollidt drag their feet... If they have to take over the missions of the HG Nord Ukraine now!
.........
HG Sud-Ukraine, Brașov (Transylvania) - After an umpteenth and very unpleasant conversation with Rastenburg - where one alternates, according to the mood, polite reminders and authoritarian demands, Wilhelm List is forced to let go of the three divisions he had selected, without even waiting for the redeployment of all the formations that were supposed to replace them. The AA Kissel thus marches in the direction of Bar, leaving it to others to defend Romania or Hungary.
It would take six days, at least, to reach its destination - and these infantry divisions will have probably tired on the way. That's a long time, but what can we do about it? It is therefore not certain that their actions will be decisive, nor that they will come back (one day) as fresh as they left. And if that's all there was to it! Under the big blue sky of this painful autumn, List and Hollidt suspect that the Reds have had plenty of time to observe these movements.
But they have no choice and can only hope that the Reds in front of them would not move and that Manstein will continue to occupy them.

* Sebastian Fichtner played a technically decisive role in the design of the Panzer VI. He is also a close friend of Heinz Guderian, a consultant in the Panzerwaffe since 1937.
 
05/10/43 - Mediterranean
October 5th, 1943

Italian Campaign
Northern Italy
- The men of the Reichsführer SS continue their sweep up the valley in the direction of Trento. Arrests follow one another, often arbitrary, for "interrogation".
Meanwhile, in Verona, the men of SS Polizei-Führer Karl Wolff do the same. They take advantage of numerous reports and uncover numerous small-scale trafficking networks.

Greece and Balkans Campaign
The Devil's Division
Tirana
- Informed by badly identified movements (but claiming to be hostile to the collectivists) of exactions committed in the vicinity of the village of Hani i Hotit, the S.O.E. officially asks the National Liberation Movement - that is, Enver Hoxha's Communist Party - to suspend its actions in the region until further notice. And the Allied command once again specified to the Partisans that the aid provided was to be understood as part of a joint effort - not an independent war. Moreover, deliveries could not be resumed only in a particular sector of the region, regardless of the repression or the events that caused it! The stormy exchanges of the Tirana conference are still in the memories of many allied officers and, in Tirana, the Communist Party is suspected of staging the Croatian exactions to advance its own objectives.
While swearing that he had nothing to do with the Hani i Hotit affair, Hoxha did order his warlords and his sword carrier Mehmet Ismail Shehu to mute their operations and to act with discretion from now on. For now, they have nothing to gain by exposing themselves - or others.The cycle of resistance actions and reprisals will diminish somewhat in this region in the following weeks, much to the relief of civilians caught in the middle of the conflict (but who are not out of the woods yet). The Devil's Division will be less talked about - for the time being.

Homecoming
Thrace
- Relieved by the arrival of the last units from Macedonia, the 22nd Division of the 1st Army continues south - the first elements are expected shortly to Koprivlen in order to close the pass to possible Allied pursuers.
This information allows Major-General Hristov to finally resume the withdrawal of his 2nd Army. The latter realises a jump of about twenty kilometers backwards on a line Serres-Proti-Eleftheroupolis, by leaning obviously again on the rocky barriers of the region. At the end of the day, the regular units of the Bulgarian army take possession of Serres, until then controlled by the 16th ID, in an atmosphere that is anything but cordial. The men of Colonel Strashimir Velchev know that they have little chance of returning one day and they are thus determined to take with them the maximum of people, but also the goods that they consider to be theirs by right. Requisitions and arrests follow one another, without worrying about civil peace or the state of mind of non-Bulgarian ethnic groups.
Such behavior can only create problems quickly, thinks Major-General Nikola Hristov, but the man has other things to worry about. Besides, how the Bulgarians of the White Sea and first of all the famous colonel Velchev - be able to see the future in the long term in such circumstances? When the evening falls on the city, it is only a sail on a smoldering fire.

Perplexity
Athens
- General Montgomery definitely does not trust the Bulgarians - and moreover he sees no reason to stretch his already excessively long supply lines even further. As a result, not wishing to venture the soldiers of His Majesty in a kind of crusade at the bottom of the kingdom of Greece when he had refused to intervene in Sofia last month, he gives Brian Horrocks a simple order: to follow the Bulgarian retreat without going beyond the rocky barrier south of Serres and the towns of Lachanas and Nea Kerdilia, which formed the previous Slavic defense line. Only a few advanced motorized elements will be allowed to advance to Nigrita and Therma - and it is mainly a question of closing the pass south of Lagkadi to possible enemy infiltration.

Bulgarian affair
Dark prospects
Sofia (royal palace)
- Worried about the visible disappointment of Adolf Beckerle following the fiasco of the raid of October 2nd, General Marinov discreetly ordered the head of the 2nd Army to press the movement. The executioners of the dreaded SS should not do too much damage in Thrace, which was still held by his men - this could upset the Allies and give a false image of his government!
Moreover, it seems obvious that the recent arrival of Nazi "special sections" in sectors where Slavic divisions are located multiplies the risk of conflictual relations and unfortunate incidents. And this while the very nature of their actions could delay the return of Hristov's divisions to Bulgarian soil.
No doubt: the sooner the Bulgarians leave Thrace, the sooner the assassins in black will return to their dens, concludes the Minister of War as he sends out his instructions.
 
05/10/43 - France
October 5th, 1943

Operation Mandragore
Alps
- In the east of the front, the 188. Gebirgs Division takes advantage of the night to redeploy to new positions. The 904. Rgt establishes itself in the upper Ubaye valley around Jausiers and on the adjoining heights of the Grand Bérard and the Croix de l'Alpe; the 903. Rgt leaves Barcelonnette, establishing itself in the north and around the mount Pellat; finally the 901. locks at present the Col de Champs.
Further north, while the 27th BCA is clearing the Marmottes mountain sector and around the Morgon, the 6th BCA advances through the Boscodon forest towards Embrun.
In spite of mines and other traps, the sector is empty of Germans: in front of the advance of the Moroccans in Ubaye, the latter preferred to retreat to avoid being cut off from their division like the Italians of the Monterosa.
The 2nd Rgt of this division was established in defense around Embrun. But its corps commander had no illusions: he was facing a pincer attack from three BCAs (22nd, 6th and 27th) who had powerful air support and knew the terrain well: in the long term, it would be necessary to retreat in order to lock in the rear of the Ecrins massif.
North of Gap, the Durand Brigade (11th, 13th, 15th, 24th BCA) makes contact with the Italians of the II/1 Reggimento Alpini and with the Gruppo Bergamo, while the 5th RI of the 10th DI finds the Gruppo Aosta south of Lus la Croix-Haute. The Gruppo Aosta (a small battalio) was severely pressed by the French infantrymen, who benefit from both air support and the help of elements of their divisional artillery.
Further west, on the borders of the Diois, the 297. GbJg Rgt's position breaks down under the blows of the 4th BMLE and the 21st RI. However, the latter lags behind, forced to secure the rear.
In this sector, the German pioneers and Panzerjägers are forced to move back their position around Jonchère and Saint-Nazaire le Désert.

Difficult progress
Provence
- A few kilometers away, the fighters of the 296. GbJg Rgt are fighting hard at the Marroux constriction, on the D70. The 6th RTS tries to maneuver with the support of the I/7 RCA, but it is without the Panzerjägers of the German mountain division, which hold the heights south-west of Saint-Nazaire le Désert and destroy several tanks. The Senegalese could not penetrate the enemy positions.
South of Dieulefit, the 3rd RTM advances slowly, as it has to clear the terrain of all the gifts that the Germans had left behind. The Zouaves reach the Roche Saint-Secret, but a counter-attack by the paratroopers of the 6. FJ Rgt, well covered by their divisional artillery, drives them back. The same happens north of Taulignan, where the infantrymen of the 52nd RI, although supported by the armoured vehicles of the II/5 RCA, are surprised by the pugnacity of the "Green Devils".
A little west, the infantrymen of the 3rd DBCP of the 14th DI and the Touzier du Vigier Brigade of the 3rd DB collide with the panzergrenadiers of the 16. Panzer in a sector of low hills. The progression is minimal, although the artillery of both divisions and the air support hits the Germans very badly.
Finally, along the Rhone river, the 1st DB, reinforced by the 6th RI, sees its attacks repulsed again by the tank hunters of the 14. SS PzGr.

In the west...
Languedoc
- Nothing new to report on the western front, apart from regular patrol activity and some artillery exchanges. In the north, in particular, the Allied guns aretrying to neutralize the Wehrmacht guns that are firing on the French sector from the Ardèche, on the other side of the river.
 
06/10/43 - Diplomacy & Economy
October 6th, 1943

Embassy of Romania in Sweden (Stockholm)
- The first approaches of His Excellency Frederic Nanu towards his Soviet counterparts have a consequence as immediate as unexpected. Fearing probably an American or European mediation (at the same time, the Romanian diplomatic services in Madrid had just received instructions to contact Professor Hayes, representing Washington!) - the Red Bear sends his local press attaché to knock on the legation's door! It is true that a bear is not supposed to be very subtle...
Finally received by Nanu, his visitor simply informs him that, if by chance the Romanian government had proposals to make to the Soviet government, "the chargé d'affaires of the USSR in Stockholm would be willing to receive the Romanian representative, because Her Excellency the Ambassador Mr. Kollontaï is seriously ill and is currently resting in a sanatorium near the capital."
Curious way to start the conversation - obviously, Frederic Nanu answers to have no particular instructions in this sense... But the unexpected host decides to leave the Romanian a phone number, specifying mezzo voce, like in any good spy movie from the capitalist studios, that it would be "preferable to call from a public phone booth"! Not fooled, His Excellency takes note of the information - he will make good use of it this evening.
 
06/10/43 - Occupied Countries
October 6th, 1943

Bucharest
- The Conducator takes note, thanks to several well-placed informants of his intelligence services, of the lively German agitation that is taking place at the same time in the Carpathians. There is talk of massive troop movements, carried out in a hurry towards the north. Obviously, things in Ukraine or Belarus are not going as well as the liaison officers or Radio Berlin would like to make it look like... For as long as the Russians are "stopped with heavy losses", there should be no need to bring in reinforcements!
This new configuration, quite favorable to the Romanians, opens perspectives to Antonescu: the Germans are forced to clear their territory! And if the Wehrmacht is less numerous here, while being more worried about what is happening on the front, it will undoubtedly be slower to react in case of an attempt of... escape... while being easier to spy, because of the lack of means to oppose it. The following weeks, taking advantage of this "temporary difficulty" - and those that follow - the Romanian secret services will have in heart to make a rather precise idea of the order of battle of the HG Sud-Ukraine... for all practical purposes.
 
06/10/43 - Asia & Pacific, Start of Operations Tiger and Zhulin
October 6th, 1943

Burma Campaign
The forces involved
XV Indian Corps, Lt-General William "Bill" Slim

- 8th Indian Division, Major-General Harvey (17th, 18th and 19th Indian Brigades)
- 14th Indian Division, Major-General W.L. Lloyd (47th, 48th and 49th Indian Brigades)
- 19th Indian Division, Major-General Thomas Wynford-Rees (23rd, 26th and 98th Indian Brigades) [reinforcement from the guard of the lines of communication].
- 5th British Infantry Division, Major-General H.P.M. Berney-Ficklin (13th, 15th and 17th Brigades)
- 1st Burma Division, Major-General Bruce-Scott (1st Burma Brigade, 55th Indian Brigade)
.........
9th Army Reserves
- 9th Armoured Brigade, Brigadier John Currie (3rd Hussars, Wiltshire Yeomanry,
Warwickshire Yeomanry)
- 50th Indian Tank Brigade, Brigadier G.H.N. Todd
- Calcutta Light Horse
- Belgian Congo Expeditionary Force, Major General Auguste Gilliaert
- Wingate Group:
3rd Indian Division, acting Major-General Orde Wingate (77th Indian Brigade, 111th Indian Brigade [reinforcement from India], 3rd West African Brigade [of the 81st WA Division])
152nd and 153rd Parachute Gurkhas Battalions
Note - The Gurkhas Paratroopers and the 77th Brigade were engaged in Operation Tigertooth.
.........
Jungle School
- 13th Indian Brigade
.........
Lines of communication
- 11th East African Division, Major General Charles C. Fowkes
- 23rd Indian Division (37th, 62nd and 64th Indian Brigades) [reinforcement from India]
.........
........
7th Japanese Army
To the south of the front, the 9th Infantry Division occupied the massif between Thaton and Moulmein. Having fortified the heights, it dominated the alluvial plain north of the Salween delta and firmly held the road between Thaton and Pa-An with its bridge.
The 12th Infantry Division (in the center of the front) and the 55th Infantry Division (north) each held a 30-km segment behind the Salween between Pa-An and the mountains adjacent to the Thai border. These two divisions have been largely reconstituted (to 90 percent of their original strength) after the February defeat, through the arrival of reinforcements and the transfer of troops from the 71st ID.
The 71st Infantry Division, which was only at 70 percent of its strength, was in reserve while playing a coastal surveillance role, as it was deployed along the coast south of Tavoy, for approximately 200 kilometers.

Operation Tiger
06:00, Salween Front
- All hell breaks loose on the northern front as the guns of the 19th Indian Division, reinforced by the 1st Burmese Division, fire on the positions of the 55th Japanese Division across the river. Then many boats are detached from the western bank, while the allied fighters multiply the patrols of cover on the sector. Shaken, unable to cover the whole front, the Nipponese cannot prevent elements of the two Commonwealth divisions from firmly establishing themselves on the eastern bank of the Salween.
The Japanese staff is all the more worried because, further south, the 12th Division is engaged on its northern wing by the 8th Indian Division. The goal of the maneuver seems clear: to cut the 55th from its neighbor in order to encircle it. It was decided to counter-attack to the west to maintain the integrity of the front while retreating to new defensive positions around the Hlaingbwe Narrows. At the end of the day, the situation is restored, not without significant losses for the 55th Division, and the 8th Indian Division could only conquer a fragile bridgehead on the eastern bank.
But the entire Salween front is in flames. In the south, the 5th British Division launches an attack along the coast. Its objective is to take Mount Thaton, which dominates the town of the same name and locks the whole sector until Pa-An. But despite very active air support, the attack is a failure. The troops of the 9th Division had been entrenched since February and their artillery could support them, firing from well camouflaged positions. All night long, the guns of the 5th British ID and the 14th Indian Division pound the enemy positions.
Towards Ye and Tavoy, although alert, the 71st Japanese Division does not move. The 7th Army staff continues to fear a landing. The Navy launches several seaplanes on reconnaissance (one of them was shot down by a Beaufighter), but without spotting anything other than some fishing boats.

Operation Tigertooth
Western border of Thailand
- All day long on the 5th, the different groups of Chindits are set up. In the early morning, they appear, sometimes under the incredulous eyes of Thai peasants.
In the north, Wingate and his W column seize before noon "Hyde Park" - the agglomeration of Tha Kha-nun. After a brief confrontation with the local troops, the depots are set on fire and the rails, unbolted, are twisted with the flame in the "Sherman's pin"style.
In the south, columns A and C reach "Trafalgar Square", seizing the road and the railroad northwest of Tha Sao. Column C moves into a defensive position and begins its demolition work, while Column A continues northward along the road to seize various bridges and works of art. There are few casualties, as the Chindits encounter only a few enemy elements, during occasional skirmishes. The P-38s cover the maneuver all day and, shortly before sunset, a light aircraft manages to land for the first MEDEVAC of the campaign.
The surprise is complete. The main Japanese supply route to the Burma front is cut off. It was even more so when, at nightfall, C-47s parachute the bulk of the 152nd and 153rd Gurkhas Battalions to the northern end of the valley, in the Three Pagodas ("Buckingham Palace") Pass area.

Indochina Campaign
The Hanoi revolt
Hanoi, 05:00
- Japanese soldiers holding the hospital, in the southern part of the city, are attacked by "rebels" who had taken up positions in nearby buildings. Two A6M2-N "Rufe" and two F1M "Pete" rush to assist them. 60 kg bombs, bullets and shells restore the situation of the besieged, but the losses on the ground are heavy, on both sides, but also in the civilian population.
During the following days, the seaplanes took off at dawn and dusk, to avoid allied fighters, and carry out several support missions of the same kind, but against poorly defined and poorly lit urban targets. A very weak response to the Allied air attacks.

Ha-Dong (south of Hanoi), around 14:00 - Lieutenant Owaza Saito drops behind the dike as soon as the FM burst starts. The small geysers of muddy water in the nearby rice field confirm that he had not reacted a second too late. His men, as crusty as he is, remain phlegmatic. They are used to this and already sergeant Hasegawa is scolding the 2nd Section to try to overrun. It will be for nothing, as usual - the enemy must already be in the process of withdrawing. It had been like that for four days. Hanging patrols (like Lieutenant Ozawa's), harassed positions, impossible to sleep, the Viets aretrying to wear down the Ha-Dong garrison.
However, this time there was something different... Was the lieutenant's hearing playing tricks on him? It is indeed an engine noise! Owaza grabs his binoculars when a distinctive whistle rips through the air.
- Shells, scatter!
But the Japanese are not targeted. Two explosions shake the grove from which the Vietminh FM was firing. Turning around, Owaza pointed his binoculars in the right direction and saw the silhouettes of Japanese soldiers, escorted by two Type 95 Ha-Go tanks and a Type 97 Te-Ke reconnaissance tankette. The whole is supported by the fire of a pair of 75 mm cannons installed on the hill. This time, the rebels did not get away with it! The enemy has neither artillery nor tanks...
Unfortunately, he has a radio!
About an hour later, when the Japanese soldiers thought they had surrounded their opponents and were about to eliminate them, birds of prey appear from the Tonkin sky. This time, they are six B-25s escorted by as many P-40s, and the fire of the few anti-aircraft machine guns the Japanese have at their disposal.
The twin-engine planes attack and the hill where the guns were installed become a volcano. The tanks disappear in the middle of bomb craters and explosions.
Then the fighters tip over the wing to dive towards the ground and spit their six 12.7 mm shells on the Japanese infantrymen.
Owaza, heartbroken, watches his men fall. The lines of impact gush out the muddy water of the rice fields and burst with blood when they hit the flesh. The soldiers, his soldiers, fall in the middle of the race, torn like cherry blossoms by the storm. They bolt into the foreign soil while the shark-mouthed planes dive and dive again and again on the men who run in all directions. From the sky, one would think one was looking at an anthill gutted by a child...
- But what are our aviators doing!
This cry ends in blood as the lieutenant collapses in the middle of his men, his chest crushed by a burst of .50s. The airmen of the Imperial Army, whom Radio Tokyo called the Wild Eagles, are not above Ha-Dong.
.........
Hanoi, same time - Playing hide-and-seek between low clouds, Lt. Anderson pilots his metal Mustang like his cowboy grandfather rode his four-legged mounts. Ahead of him, a Nakajima Ki-43 tries to get him to let go, but his pilot is a beginner and his maneuvers are clumsy. Panic-stricken, he dives into the high tower of a cumulonimbus, hoping without doubt to drag his pursuer into it.
- Bad choice, man!
Instead of following him, Anderson goes to wait for him at the exit. He knows that, brutally shaken by the torrents of rain, the Oscar will not be long in emerging from the cloud. He goes around it, scanning the air between the cloudy masses. He raises his glasses of flight with orange glasses and suddenly sees his prey which has just appeared, there, lower than envisaged. He tilts his plane, dives towards the right, magnetized by the red circles on the wings of his opponent. Automatically, he calculates the deflection and aims at a point in front of the Ki-43.
- Sayonara, sucker!
Anderson mashes the fire button, his six Browning M2s send the Mustang scurrying and in front of him, close by, he sees the .50 rounds ravaging the fuselage and canopy of the Japanese fighter. Did he really see the blood spurt out or did he just imagine it? He glances almost sadly at the plane as it plunges to the ground. No parachute...
A voice in the headphones of his helmet reminds him of reality, the battle continues around him. The B-24 from China bombing the hydrobase call for help. He glances at his compass and heads northwest. Emerging from the clouds, low enough to see the Paul-Doumer Bridge on his right and the large island in the middle of the Red River. An explosion makes the hunter shudder as black flakes burst out around him! The bridge's flak battery spotted him, but it was already far behind.
Above the iridescent surface of the large lake, a bright spot appears followed by a long black trail. A fighter burns and falls. It crashes a little to the west of Truc Bach. Friend or foe? Maybe he'll find out... if he survives. Anderson grits his teeth and plunges again into hell: a sky full of tracers where Allied fighters are trying to keep a cloud of fighters, including a few seaplanes, away from the bombers. The Japanese held on, but the power was clearly on the Allied side. What did the Wild Eagles do? They fight for their survival in the skies over Hanoi.

Sino-Japanese War
Operation Zhulin
Xinyu (Jiangxi), 03:00
- The Japanese lines are the target of a massive artillery barrage by local standards, resulting from the concentration of the 27th Division and the 52nd Artillery Regiment of the 200th AD. It stops after a short time - the Chinese do not have so much ammunition - but the Japanese then see arriving on them M3 Stuart tanks, spearhead of 200th AD, which is engaged in combat in its entirety for the first time since July 1942. The tanks are followed by brand new M3 half-tracks of the 600th Motorized Infantry Rgt.
In this sector, the Japanese defenders - the 218th Rgt of the 34th Division - had little in the way of anti-tank means to oppose the Chinese breakthrough. Moreover, under-equipped in trucks, the 218th Rgt is quickly overrun on its northern and southern flanks: by mid-day, Xinyu is threatened with encirclement.

Wuhan (Hubei) - At the same time, General Sun Du launches the assault of his three divisions of his 1st Army. At dawn, his advanced elements come into contact with the lines of the Japanese 3rd Division near the town of Dandian, on the Yangtze River below Wuhan, about 50 kilometers northeast of Huanggang.

Bengbu (Anhui) - This location is far from the front line - the reserve elements of the Japanese 13th Army are all the more unpleasantly surprised to see the 2nd Division of the New Chinese 4th Army, which had been operating in the Jiangsu underground. Coordinated with local partisans who trigger an uprising in the city, the attack overwhelms the Japanese who, after a few hours, control only the barracks, the town hall and the police station. General Peng Dehuai does not stop there: while the 2nd Division remains in Bengbu to overcome the last defenders, the 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th Divisions advance westward toward the front line. Cautious, he keeps the 4th and 5th Divisions in his rear. It is probably useful to recall here that these divisions would be regiments in most Western armies...

Nanjing - The Japanese general staff is quick to understand that this is a large-scale offensive whose objective is the encirclement of the Wuhan salient, but hesitates as to which reinforcements to send to its 11th Army: to move the 13th Army, currently based in the Nanjing area, would he not be exposing himself to General Peng's forces moving southward - and thus toward the Chinese capital, occupied by Japanese forces? It is finally decided to send the 22nd and 116th Divisions to Wuhan.
 
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