December 29, 2018

DECEMBER 29 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

DECEMBER 29

1940

The Second Great Fire of London:  On the night of December 29 to 30, 1940, over 136  German bombers dropped about 100,000 bombs on London.  The city was engulfed in fires that covered a greater area than the infamous Great Fire of London in 1666.  Most targets were non-residential buildings such as businesses, warehouses, and churches.  Firefighters struggled desperately to put out the flames but were hampered by a water shortage. The main water-main in the City was bombed. They could not even obtain  water from other hydrants as it caused that the water pressure to drop.  Attempts to draw water from the River Thames were in vain as the river was in low tide and the wind fanned the inferno even further.  The German bombers had dropped incendiary bombs on London's beloved St. Paul's Cathedral, and there were fears that it would be destroyed in the raid.  Churchill was adamant that the Cathedral be saved at all costs. According to an eye-witness report by American correspondent Ernie Pyle,  "....The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape—so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly—the gigantic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions—growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield......."


US President Franklin D. Roosevelt Fireside Chat "Arsenal of Democracy":  ".......We face this new crisis -- this new threat to the security of our nation .....The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world.....We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.  We have furnished the British great material support and we will furnish far more in the future. There will be no "bottlenecks" in our determination to aid Great Britain. No dictator, no combination of dictators, will weaken that determination by threats of how they will construe that determination.......The British have received invaluable military support from the heroic Greek army and from the forces of all the governments in exile. Their strength is growing. It is the strength of men and women who value their freedom more highly than they value their lives.......We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope -- hope for peace, yes, and hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building of a better civilization in the future............."


1943

"Operation Partridge"  was a British Commando raid during the Second World War, that took place during the Italian Campaign by No. 9 Commando. The Operation was a diversionary raid behind the German lines, to cover the withdrawal of the X Corps in preparation for its proposed assault across the Garigliano river.  No. 9 Commando landed on the north shore of the estuary during the night and attacked several German positions before withdrawing across the river in DUKWs.  The No.4 and No.6 troops  had to cross 2,700 yards (2,500 m) upriver by using ropes and swimming. Casualties were nine commando KIA, but the unit captured 29 prisoners.

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