30 July 1943

30 July 1943



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30 July 1943

War in the Air

Eighth Air Force Heavy Bomber Mission No. 80: 186 aircraft sent to attack industrial targets at Kassel. Twelve aircraft lost.

Technology

First flight of the Arado Ar 234 jet bomber (Germany)

War at Sea

German submarine U-591 sunk off Pernambuco

German submarine U-43 sunk with all hands off the Azores

German submarine U-504 sunk with all hands off Cape Ortegal

German submarines U-461 and U-462 sunk off Cape Ortegal



›› Date difference from Dec 23, 1921 to Jul 30, 1943

The total number of days between Friday, December 23rd, 1921 and Friday, July 30th, 1943 is 7,889 days.

This is equal to 21 years, 7 months, and 7 days.

This does not include the end date, so it's accurate if you're measuring your age in days, or the total days between the start and end date. But if you want the duration of an event that includes both the starting date and the ending date, then it would actually be 7,890 days.

If you're counting workdays or weekends, there are 5,635 weekdays and 2,254 weekend days.

If you include the end date of Jul 30, 1943 which is a Friday, then there would be 5,636 weekdays and 2,254 weekend days including both the starting Friday and the ending Friday.

7,889 days is equal to 1,127 weeks.

The total time span from 1921-12-23 to 1943-07-30 is 189,336 hours.

You can also convert 7,889 days to 681,609,600 seconds.


30 July 1943 - History

History of the 511th Airborne Regiment

by Leo Kocher

The 511th PIR was activated at Camp Toccoa, Georgia on January 5, 1943, under the command of LTC Orin D. Haugen. He was promoted to a full Colonel a few months later. The cadre of the 511th PIR were selected mainly from the 505th PIR which was then stationed in Fort Benning, GA. The Regiment was formed from about 12,000 recruits, of which about 3,000 were selected to start basic training. From the latter number around 2,000 troopers formed the Regiment, of which 173 were commissioned and three were warrant officers .

On March 23, 1943, the 511th PIR closed at Camp Mackall, NC to join the 11 th Airborne Division, under the command of Major General Joseph M. Swing. Following 17 weeks of Basic training, the 511th journeyed to the Fort Benning Parachute School for three weeks of jump training. It should be noted, with all the extensive training, no 511th PIR soldier who boarded a C-47 refused to make the jump.

In December of 1943, the 511th returned to Camp Mackall for Advanced Training. The success of the Knollwood Maneuvers was very instrumental in the continued use of Airborne troops during the remainder of World War II. In January of 1944, the Regiment departed Camp Mackall for Camp Polk, Louisiana to engage in further maneuvers and prepare for overseas movement.

In April of 1944 the 511th departed Camp Polk for Camp Stoneman, California. On May 8, 1944, the 511th PIR departed from Pittsburgh, CA on the SS Sea Pike with about 2,000 troopers that had been disguised as a "Straight Leg" infantry unit. The ship had been built by the Western Pipe and Steel Corp. and launched in Feb. 1943. The ship was 492 feet long, with a beam of 70 feet. She drew 29 feet of water and her steam engines pushed her at 17 knots. On May 28, 1944 the Regiment arrived at Oro Bay, New Guinea.

While the 511th was in Strategic Reserve in New Guinea (May - October 1944), they conducted Airborne, Jungle and Amphibious training. On Nov. 7, 1944 the Regiment departed New Guinea by ship (USS Cavalier) for the Leyte Campaign in the Philippines. From November 18 to December 27 the Regiment participated in the Leyte Campaign in the Abuyog, Dulag, Burauen, Anonang, Manaraawat, Lubi, Mohonag and Anas areas.

The 511th went into reserve in the Dulag area from Dec. 27th to January 21, 1945. From Jan. 22 to Feb. 2, the Regiment prepared for the forthcoming jump on Tagaytay Ridge and moved to Mindoro by sea and air. On the 3rd of Feb., the 511th jumped on Tagaytay Ridge, Luzon. From there the Regiment moved to the Paranaque and the Pasay area and fought in the Ft. McKinley and Alabang area until Feb. 19, 1945. On Feb. 11, 1945 Col. Orin D. Haugen (the Regimental Commander) was mortally wounded and died of wounds on Feb. 22, 1945. Lt. Col. Edward Lahti, the 3rd Battallion commander assumed command and remained in command until August 1947.

On Feb. 23, 1945, in an effort to rescue the many prisoners (2,147) still under Japanese control at the Los Bonas prison, B-511th, plus the light machine gun platoon from HQ1, made a dawn jump on the prison at 0700 hours. Together with a simultaneous attack, by a Reconnaissance Platoon and Filipino guerrillas, the prison was captured. Amtracks (amphibious vehicles from the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion) were used to transport the prisoners to safety. The plan envisioned the immediate evacuation of all prisoners and military personnel to the security of the Manila area. It was almost a textbook operation, no fatalities were suffered on the entire mission and all prisoners were rescued.

The Regiment fought in the Real, Mt Bijiang and Santo Tomas areas from March 4 to March 24, 1945. From March 24 to April 11, 1945, the Regiment less the 3rd Battalion, operated in the Bauen and Batangas areas as 6th Army reserve. During this period, the 3rd Battalion was attached to the 188th PG and fought in the Sulac, Sapac, Talisay and Malaraya Hill areas. From April 12 to May 4, 1945 the 511th fought in the Lipa and Mt. Malepunyo area. In May 1945, base camp was set up near Lipa, Luzon. On June 23, 1945 the 1st Battalion and Companies G and I, boarded troop transports, from the 317th Troop Carrier Group, at Lipa Airstrip and dropped by parachute near Aparri as part of the Gypsy Task Force. The 511th PIR sustained a total of 289 killed and/or missing in action causalities during the Leyte and Luzon Campaigns. Click here for a complete list of those in the 511th who gave their lives for their country.

On August 11, 1945 the Regiment departed Luzon by air and were flown to Okinawa. On August 30, 1945 the 511th arrived by air, at Atsugi Air Base near Yokohama to occupy the city and guard the docks from which the peace delegation left to go to the USS Missouri and the signing of the Armistice. On Sept. 16, 1945 the 511th moved to Morioka, Japan to begin the occupation of Iwate and Aomori Prefectures in Northern Honshu. Separate companies were stationed from South Morioka, all the way north of Honshu to the city of Aomori. In January of 1947 the scattered units started to move in to Camp Haugen near Hatchinohe. In February 1947, Regimental Headquarters moved from Morioka to Camp Haugen. During the months of January through March of 1947, the Regiment was brought back up to T/O strength.

In February of 1949, the Regiment less the 3rd Battalion, departed Camp Haugen and returned to the United States via the Panama Canal and arrived in New Orleans in March 1949, from where it moved to Camp Campbell, Kentucky. The 3rd Battalion remained in Camp Haugen, attached to the 7th Division, until April 22, 1949, when it departed for the United States. With the outbreak of the war in Korea, on June 25, 1950, training was intensified, including reservists. On August 1, 1950, the 187th was alerted for overseas movement and was designated the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. To bring the 187th ARCT up to T/O strength, their ranks were filled from the 511th PIR, with most transfers being made within like units. They departed San Francisco on September 6-7, 1950 by ship and begin arriving at the Inchon Beachhead, in Korea, on Sept. 22, 1950. Of the 476 causalities suffered by the 187th in Korea, during the entire police action (1950-1953), it has been determined that at least 62, were in the first wave of 511th PIR troopers, that had been merged into the 187th ARCT in 1950. Another highlight came in March 1956, when the 511th (as part of the 11th

Airborne Division) crossed the Atlantic into Europe to replace the 5th Inf. Div., in Augsburg, Germany during Operation Gyroscope. The 511th's fifteen-year duration came to an end at Fort Campbell in July 1958, when they and the 11th Abn. Div. was officially inactivated. On June 1, 1993, A-511th Infantry was reactivated at Fort Rucker, Alabama. They were deactivated in Nov. 1994. On October 1, 1997, A-511th PIR was reactivated as a Test Company for the Enhanced Fiber Optic Guided Missile (EFOGM) system, under the Command of Cpt. Stephen Inouye at Fort Bragg, NC. It will be the first and only Airborne EFOGM Company in the world.

The 511th PIR Commanders Tour of Duty

Col. Orin D. Haugen Jan. 1943 - Feb. 1945

Lt.Col. Edward Lahti Feb. 1945 - Aug. 1947

Col. Reynolds Condon Aug. 1947 - Sept.1949

Lt.Col. M.M. Lyons Sept.1949 - Dec. 1949

Lt.Col. Ben Harrell Dec. 1949 - July 1950

Col. Aubrey S. Newman Aug. 1950 - Apr. 1951

Lt.Col. Warren T. Hannum Jr. Apr. 1951 - May 1951

Col. Broadus McAfee May 1951 - May 1952

Lt.Col. William M. Haycock May 1952 - July 1952

Col. Curtis J. Herrick July 1952 - Jan. 1953

Col. Robert L. Walton Jan. 1953 - June 1953

Lt.Col. Ralph D. Burns June 1953 - June 1953

Col. John D. Cone June 1953 - June 1954

Lt.Col. Ralph D. Burns June 1954 - July 1954

Col. Patrick F. Cassidy July 1954 - June 1955

Lt.Col. Gordon K. Smith June 1955 - Aug. 1955

Col. Herman W. Dammer Aug. 1955 - July 1956

Lt.Col. Cameron Knox July 1956 - Sept. 1956

Col. D.E. Munson Sept.1956 - July 1958

Sources:

1) 511th Parachute Infantry Yearbooks

2) Articles from the 511th PIR Association Newsletter "Winds Aloft"

3) Communication with fellow 511th troopers and personal knowledge.

"Strength From Above" - An impressive and substantial historical chronicle
of the 511th PIR. Dr. James Lorio, former G Company Commander, used "Strength From Above"
to recount personal accounts and the exploits of the men of the 511th PIR. "Strength from Above" can
also be found in the PTO section and new section of the site.

If you have comments or a story to share, please use the Feedback Form to reach us.

Return to Exhibits Page.


Education

After studying at the Realschule, Karlstadt (later renamed the Johann-Rudolph-Glauber Realschule Karlstadt) in Germany the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague during the 1870s, Tesla moved to Budapest, where for a time he worked at the Central Telephone Exchange.

It was while in Budapest that the idea for the induction motor first came to Tesla, but after several years of trying to gain interest in his invention, at age 28 Tesla decided to leave Europe for America.


New Orleans Massacre (1866)

The New Orleans Massacre, also known as the New Orleans Race Riot, occurred on July 30, 1866. While the riot was typical of numerous racial conflicts during Reconstruction, this incident had special significance. It galvanized national opposition to the moderate Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson and ushered in much more sweeping Congressional Reconstruction in 1867.

The riot took place outside the Mechanics Institute in New Orleans as black and white delegates attended the Louisiana Constitutional Convention. The Convention had reconvened because the Louisiana state legislature had recently passed the black codes and refused to extend voting rights to black men. Also on May 12, 1866, four years of Union Army imposed martial law ended and Mayor John T. Monroe, who had headed city government before the Civil War, was reinstated as acting mayor. Monroe had been an active supporter of the Confederacy.

As a delegation of 130 black New Orleans residents marched behind the U.S. flag toward the Mechanics Institute, Mayor Monroe organized and led a mob of ex-Confederates, white supremacists, and members of the New Orleans Police Force to the Institute to block their way. The mayor claimed their intent was to put down any unrest that may come from the Convention but the real reason was to prevent the delegates from meeting.

As the delegation came to within a couple of blocks of the Institute, shots were fired but the group was allowed to proceed to the meeting hall. Once they reached the Institute the police and white mob members attacked them, beating some of the marchers while others rushed inside the building for safety.

Now the police and mob surrounded the Institute and opened fire on the building, shooting indiscriminately into the windows. Then the mob rushed into the building and began to fire into the crowd of delegates. When the mob ran out of ammunition they were beaten back by the delegates. The mob left the building, regrouped, and returned, breaking down the doors and again firing on the mostly unarmed delegates.

As the firing continued some delegates attempted to flee or surrender. Some of those who surrendered, mostly blacks, were killed on the spot. Those who ran were chased as the killing spread over several blocks around the Institute. By this point both the rioters and victims included people who were never at the Institute. African Americans were shot on the street or pulled off of streetcars to be summarily beaten or killed. By the end of the massacre, at least 200 black Union war veterans were killed, including forty delegates at the Convention. Altogether 238 people were killed and 46 were wounded.


The Worst Shark Attack in History

Related Content

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis are taken to medical aid on the island of Guam. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

The USS Indianapolis had delivered the crucial components of the first operational atomic bomb to a naval base on the Pacific island of Tinian. On August 6, 1945, the weapon would level Hiroshima. But now, on July 28, the Indianapolis sailed from Guam, without an escort, to meet the battleship USS Idaho in the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and prepare for an invasion of Japan.

The next day was quiet, with the Indianapolis making about 17 knots through swells of five or six feet in the seemingly endless Pacific. As the sun set over the ship, the sailors played cards and read books some spoke with the ship’s priest, Father Thomas Conway.

But shortly after midnight, a Japanese torpedo hit the Indianapolis in the starboard bow, blowing almost 65 feet of the ship’s bow out of the water and igniting a tank containing 3,500 gallons of aviation fuel into a pillar of fire shooting several hundred feet into the sky. Then another torpedo from the same submarine hit closer to midship, hitting fuel tanks and powder magazines and setting off a chain reaction of explosions that effectively ripped the Indianapolis in two. Still traveling at 17 knots, the Indianapolis began taking on massive amounts of water the ship sank in just 12 minutes. Of the 1,196 men aboard, 900 made it into the water alive. Their ordeal—what is considered the worst shark attack in history—was just beginning.

As the sun rose on July 30, the survivors bobbed in the water. Life rafts were scarce. The living searched for the dead floating in the water and appropriated their lifejackets for survivors who had none. Hoping to keep some semblance of order, survivors began forming groups—some small, some over 300—in the open water. Soon enough they would be staving off exposure, thirst—and sharks.

The animals were drawn by the sound of the explosions, the sinking of the ship and the thrashing and blood in the water. Though many species of shark live in the open water, none is considered as aggressive as the oceanic whitetip. Reports from the Indianapolis survivors indicate that the sharks tended to attack live victims close to the surface, leading historians to believe that most of the shark-related causalities came from oceanic whitetips.

The first night, the sharks focused on the floating dead. But the survivors’ struggles in the water only attracted more and more sharks, which could feel their motions through a biological feature known as a lateral line: receptors along their bodies that pick up changes in pressure and movement from hundreds of yards away. As the sharks turned their attentions toward the living, especially the injured and the bleeding, sailors tried to quarantine themselves away from anyone with an open wound, and when someone died, they would push the body away, hoping to sacrifice the corpse in return for a reprieve from a shark’s jaw. Many survivors were paralyzed with fear, unable even to eat or drink from the meager rations they had salvaged from their ship. One group of survivors made the mistake of opening a can of Spam—but before they could taste it, the scent of the meat drew a swarm of sharks around them. They got rid of their meat rations rather than risk a second swarming.

The sharks fed for days, with no sign of rescue for the men. Navy intelligence had intercepted a message from the Japanese submarine that had torpedoed the Indianapolis describing how it had sunk an American battleship along the Indianapolis’ route, but the message was disregarded as a trick to lure American rescue boats into an ambush. In the meantime, the Indianapolis survivors learned that they had the best odds in a group, and ideally in the center of the group. The men on the margins or, worse, alone, were the most susceptible to the sharks.

As the days passed, many survivors succumbed to heat and thirst, or suffered hallucinations that compelled them to drink the seawater around them—a sentence of death by salt poisoning. Those who so slaked their thirst would slip into madness, foaming at the mouth as their tongues and lips swelled. They often became as great a threat to the survivors as the sharks circling below—many dragged their comrades underwater with them as they died.

After 11:00 a.m. on their fourth day in the water, a Navy plane flying overhead spotted the Indianapolis survivors and radioed for help. Within hours, another seaplane, manned by Lieutenant Adrian Marks, returned to the scene and dropped rafts and survival supplies. When Marks saw men being attacked by sharks, he disobeyed orders and landed in the infested waters, and then began taxiing his plane to help the wounded and stragglers, who were at the greatest risk. A little after midnight, the USS Doyle arrived on the scene and helped to pull the last survivors from the water. Of the Indianapolis’ original 1,196-man crew, only 317 remained. Estimates of the number who died from shark attacks range from a few dozen to almost 150. It’s impossible to be sure. But either way, the ordeal of the Indianapolis survivors remains the worst maritime disaster in U.S. naval history.

Sources: Richard Bedser. Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever . Discovery Channel: United States, 2007 Cathleen Bester. “Oceanic Whitetip Shark,” On the Florida Museum of Natural History. Accessed August 7, 2013 Nick Collins. “Oceanic whitetip shark: ten facts,” On Telegraph UK, December 6, 2010. Accessed August 6, 2013 Tom Harris. “How Sharks Work,” On How Stuff Works, March 30, 2001. Accessed August 6, 2013 Alex Last. “USS Indianapolis sinking: ‘You could see sharks circling’” on BBC News Magazine, July 28, 2013. Accessed August 6, 2013 Raymond B. Leach. The Tragic Fate of the USS Indianapolis. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000 Marc Nobleman. The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Publishers, 2006 “Oral History -The Sinking of USS Indianapolis,” On Naval Historical Center, September 1, 1999. Accessed August 7, 2013 “The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, 1945.” On Eyewitness to History, 2006. Accessed August 6, 2013 Doug Stanton. In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. New York, NY: Macmillan, 2003 “The Story.” On the USS Indianapolis CA-35, March 1998. Accessed August 6, 2013 Jennifer Viegas. “Worst Shark Attack,” On Discovery Channel. Accessed August 6, 2013.


30 July 1943 - History

  • U.S. Newspapers, 50-State Full Search (1690-current)
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  • Newspaper Funeral Notices

WPA Historical Records Survey

As part of the Historical Records Survey, WPA staff created indexes of historical records across the country, fostering today's interest in genealogy and history.

If you have surfed the Internet for genealogical records, chances are you have run across a site or two that published "WPA Cemetery Indexes". The WPA is now long gone, but their legacy lives on in the genealogical community. What was the WPA, what did they do, and what happened to them?

When the Great Depression hit the United States in 1929, the American economy hit rock bottom. The value of the dollar became nearly worthless and millions of Americans lost their jobs. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced "The New Deal", a series of new programs designed to pick America back up on to its feet and get the economy moving again.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of those programs. Initially designed to fund the building and improvement America's infrastructure, it also funded the arts, history, and culture of America. In short, the WPA employed out-of-work Americans who were certified by local agencies as meeting certain qualifications.

The WPA was born in 1935 with an initial appropriation of $4.88 billion dollars from the Emergency Relief Fund. Over the years, the WPA would employ some 8.5 million Americans, and spent a total of $11 billion dollars. Interestingly, half of those workers were employed in New York City alone!. Typical WPA workers were paid $15 to $90 dollars a month. It remains today as the most vigorous attempt in history to stimulate the U.S. economy. In 1939, the WPA was renamed to the Works Projects Administration. The WPA lived for only eight years.

The WPA was responsible for building structures, such as airports, seaports, and bridges. It paved 651,000 miles of road, built 78,000 bridges, 8,000 parks, and 800 airports. The WPA also funded some programs in the humanities, including the Federal Arts Project, Federal Writers Project, Federal Theatre Project, National Health Survey, and the Historical Records Survey (HRS).

Originally organized in 1935 as part of the Federal Writers Project, the HRS documented resources for research into American History. It later became a unit of the Research and Records Program in 1939. The HRS was responsible for creating the soundex indexes of the federal census which genealogists today have come to rely so heavily on. The HRS also compiled indexes of vital statistics, cemetery interments, school records, military records, maps, newspapers, and the list went on and on. Microfilms of these indexes were later made by other organizations.

The WPA was organized into regional, state, and local divisions. Much of the work conducted by the HRS was done for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as well as state archives agencies, and state historical societies, which these entities are still in possession of. One can access the microfilms by paying a visit to these organizations.

As the years went by, government officials became highly critical of the WPA, arguing that money was being spent to fund projects that people did not need, such as tap dancing lessons, and murals painted in post offices. Roosevelt claimed the high morale of the workers was well worth the money. However, federal funding for the WPA decreased over the years, and certain projects were terminated. WPA staff began waging labor strikes, which only fueled arguments against the WPA.

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Americans went to work building war machines. Hundreds of defense contractors earned orders, which spurned the growth of yet thousands of more companies. By 1943, it was clear that the WPA had run its course. Roosevelt signed the order terminating the WPA, which ended on June 30, 1943.

After the WPA was dissolved, the records, now in the hands of state archives and historical societies, were microfilmed, indexed, and made available for use. However, many other records were placed into boxes and stored away. Fewer yet had been destroyed, and in some cases, destroyed purposely.

With the emergence of the Internet, WPA records have found their way into mass distribution. Genealogists, who have long relied on microfilms of WPA records, are now finding the same records online. The most prominent example is the USGenWeb Census Project, where volunteers are migrating the census index microfilms to the Internet.

Many WPA cemetery recordings are also finding their way online. While no single WPA based project currently exists, hundreds of people across the United States have visited their local historical societies, copied some records, and published them to the Internet on their own personal websites.

While critics might argue that federal money was wasted on unnecessary projects, it is clear that the work of the WPA fostered a greater appreciation for the arts and humanities. The thousands of publicly accessible paintings, writings, plays, and music, stimulated the people's appreciation of the arts. The thousands of parks and recreational facilities built by the WPA, is the reason why we have become used to having so many parks and facilities nearby. Likewise, the projects of the HRS created interest in the research of history and genealogy, which subsequently spurned the restoration of old cemeteries, erection of monuments, and establishment of societies and clubs. Interest in genealogy would not be at the level it is now if not for the WPA.

Steve is the editor of The Cemetery Column, and is the webmaster of Cemetery Records Online.


Hanford Nuclear Reservation

In January 1943 the Defense Plants Corporation, which at the time was establishing new electrometal and electrochemical plants in the Pacific Northwest to use the hydroelectricity of Grand Coulee and Bonneville dams, asked the Bonneville Power Administration to supply electricity for a new “mystery load” at Hanford, a tiny farming community on a bend in the Columbia River in the dusty, dry, and wind-swept Columbia Plateau of central Washington. World War II was in its second year, and the Atomic Energy Commission had acquired 670 square miles of land in the Hanford area for a project related to the war effort, but that was all that was known.

The Manhattan District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, created the previous year, built the Hanford Engineer Works, employing thousands of people in a secret project to separate plutonium from uranium to make nuclear bombs. Enrico Fermi had achieved nuclear fission at the University of Chicago for the first time in 1942. Now the U.S. Army was racing to develop the bomb before Hitler’s scientists did. The Manhattan Project, authorized by President Roosevelt in December 1942, included laboratories on the Clinch River in Tennessee, at Los Alamos, New Mexico, and at Hanford.

Building the Hanford Engineer Works required the forced relocation of two communities, Hanford and White Bluffs, and more than 1,500 people, including farmers, ranchers and the local Wanapum Indians, whose fishing sites and camps dotted the Hanford reservation and Columbia River shoreline. The Indians relocated west of the Hanford site at Priest Rapids. Developed areas, including homes and ranches, were condemned by the Army after the owners left, many of the abandoned homes were used by the Army as temporary living quarters and offices. Many people objected to the government’s appraisals of their property and argued for higher payments in most cases, the Army negotiated and settled out of court. When the Manhattan Project buildings were complete, the homes and community buildings were torn down. Only the concrete remains of building foundations mark the former town sites today.

Construction began at Hanford on March 22, 1943. E.I Du Pont de Nemours and Co. was the site contractor. The work included simultaneous construction of three reactor complexes, two chemical separations complexes, a center for fuel manufacturing and research, a construction camp and an employee village. In 30 months, a total of 554 buildings were constructed, not including residences or dormitories.

The Army selected Hanford as the site of its secret bomb laboratory for several key reasons. First, it was isolated, and the Army demanded secrecy. The secret almost leaked in April 1944 when Oregon congressman Homer Angell defended appropriations for the project by publicly referring to the “mystery load” of electricity that was needed at Hanford for “a new weapon of warfare, developed by new manufacturing processes that will turn large volumes of electricity into the most important projectile yet developed.” The wartime Office of Censorship tried — unsuccessfully — to stop the Oregon Journal newspaper of Portland from publishing a story about Angell’s remarks. The secret, however, remained intact. Second, there was an abundant supply of clear, cold water in from the Columbia River, and the reactors required cold water to dissipate the heat generated by nuclear fission. Third, the reactors and the chemical plants required large amounts of electricity, and the governments two new hydropower dams at Grand Coulee and Bonneville were close — Grand Coulee, was just 90 miles north.

The Manhattan Project reactors at Hanford were squat and non-descript. Each measured 36 feet long and 28 feet tall. Each used 200 tons of uranium-metal fuel and 1,200 tons of graphite to control the nuclear fission in the uranium piles. Six reactors were planned, spaced at one-mile intervals along the southern shore of the river as it bends through the Hanford site. Each reactor site was assigned an alphabetic identification, A through F. The B, D and F reactors were build first at alternating locations that averaged six miles apart. Each site was self-contained. This ensured isolation from other sites, workers and the nearby population in case radioactivity leaked or there were an explosion. The chemical separation plants, which did not require Columbia River water, were built 10 miles south of the reactors, separated from them by Gable Mountain and Gable Butte.

The first reactor, at site B, began operating on Sept. 26, 1944. The first plutonium was delivered to the Army on February 2, 1945. The first test blast was on July 16, in New Mexico, and nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki three days later. The plutonium in the second bomb was manufactured at Hanford. The war ended soon after.

Columbia River hydropower helped build one of the two bombs that ended World War II, but the war didn’t turn on the availability of massive amounts of hydropower despite the assertions of some people, including President Harry Truman. Campaigning in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1948, Truman commented: “Without Grand Coulee and Bonneville dams it would have been almost impossible to win this war.” Earl Warren, the Republican vice presidential candidate the same year, said Hitler would have developed the bomb first if not for Columbia River hydropower. The truth, however, is that Columbia River hydropower made the Hanford site possible, but Hanford was just one of six sites where the Army considered building the secret engineering and production facility. There were no nationwide power shortages during the war, and if another site had been selected the government would have diverted electricity from domestic uses if necessary. In fact, historians have asserted that the Columbia River dams didn’t win the war as much as the war won the public relations battle over the dams. The war effort brought an influx of people and industry to the region and boosted the regional economy. The war helped legitimize the government’s gamble in building the big dams.

Today the Hanford site encompasses 586 square miles. Over time, the plutonium production complex grew to nine reactors, all now closed. Hanford is the site of the only operating nuclear power plant in the Northwest, the Columbia Generating Station operated by Energy Northwest. Construction began in the 1970s on that plant and on two other nuclear plants at Hanford, all planned as part of the Hydro-Thermal Power Program. The two others never were completed. Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories also has research facilities at Hanford, but the primary focus of work is the federal Department of Energy’s effort to clean up the radioactive waste left over from the Manhattan Project.

The magnitude of the radioactive contamination at Hanford is staggering. Much of the waste is liquid — about 53 million gallons — as the chemical extraction process used at Hanford involved soaking the spent uranium fuel rods from the reactors in nitric acid to separate the plutonium. Liquid wastes are stored in 177 underground tanks 70 are leaking, and a plume of radioactivity is seeping toward the Columbia. There are 1,700 waste sites and about 500 contaminated buildings.

The cleanup plan, which is being implemented by the federal Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state of Washington Department of Ecology, calls for pumping liquid wastes from tanks (single-shell tanks first) and combining the liquid with molten glass, a process known as vitrification, for eventual burial in a waste depository. The Hanford waste also includes 75,000 barrels of solid radioactive waste, most of which remains buried in trenches but is being removed. Solid waste also includes spent fuel rods, such as the 2,300 tons of spent fuel stored underwater in large, concrete pools at the two K Basin reactors. The pools had stored cooling water for the reactors when they were operating. Spent fuel rods exposed to air can burn, possibly spreading radioactive ash and particles.

The spent fuel in the two K Basin ponds, was deteriorating and so beginning in 1994 crews removed it and, over time, moved it to Hanford’s Canister Storage Building, where it will remain until a permanent, national repository for spent fuel is built. Once the spent fuel was removed, some 47 cubic yards of radioactive sludge was removed from the bottom of the two ponds and stored in containers.


30 July 1943 - History

This timeline was created for the Museum of The San Fernando ValIey and pulls from resources like Calisphere, the Library of Congress, CSUN, personal blogs and a diverse set of publications. Visit the &lsquoresources&rsquo page for a complete listing of sources.

Special thanks to Tiffany Do for her research and interest in creating the timeline, and Hillary Jenks and Alexis Moreno for their help in writing the entries.

144 - 65 million years ago The Chatsworth Formation is created.

50,000 – 15,000 BC People of northeast Asia follow herds of caribou, bison & mammoth and migrate across the present day Bering Strait. They move south along ice-fee corridors into the North American continent to what is now California. Other people migrate north from what is now South America.

1200 -1800 AD Chumash cave dwellers paint pictographs in the caves of the Burro Flats.

Approximately 40 tribes exist around the Valley, collectively called &lsquoFernandeños,&rsquo after the mission. Some communities date to 900 AD, like the Village of Tujunga.

1542 Juan Cabrillo claims Southern California territory for the Spanish kingdom, beginning over three and half centuries of occupation. The Portuguese-born sailor goes on to &ldquodiscover&rdquo the Catalina Islands, the sites of San Pedro and Santa Monica, and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

1720 Map of California from Frenchman Nicolas de Fer shows California as an island.

1784 Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo establishes Rancho San Rafael in Burbank/Glendale.

1795 Campo de Cahuenga adobe house is built, and Rancho Encino is founded.

1769 The Spanish claim Alta California (present day California) in the &ldquoSacred Expedition,&rdquo when explorer Gaspar de Portolà reaches San Diego. With him are two Franciscan padres, Junipero Serra and Juan Crespi, who record the expedition and found the first mission. The Sacred Expedition is a religious & military project of missionization and colonization on behalf of Spain. Spanish citizenship is earned by Native Americans upon the acceptance of Christianity. Demographers estimate that between 300,000 & 1,000,000 Indians inhabit what is now California on the eve of colonization in the 18th century.The Spanish &ldquodiscover&rdquo the valley from the Sepulveda Pass. They name it Valle de Santa Catarina de Bononia de los Encinos (Valley of St. Catherine of Bononia of Oaks).

1797 Mission San Fernando Rey de España is created and housed on Rancho Encino. It is the 17th of the California missions established by Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen. Using Native American workers to not only construct the mission but also work it, the mission quickly becomes one of the most prosperous in California, producing abundant harvests and goods. The mix of agrarian and industrial life at this early stage in the Valley&rsquos history sets a precedent for the future economy of the Valley as a pastoral region with some areas of industry.

1813 Father Muñoz and Father Nuez take the first census of the Valley which focused on Mission Indians.

1819 As a working ranch, Mission San Fernando reaches its economic peak.

1822 Spanish rule in California becomes Mexican rule with the rise of the Republic of Mexico and the country's successful War for Independence from Spain.

1826 The Mexican government expels Spaniards with government order.

1833 The Mexican government secularizes the missions, making them public property and allows for land to be distributed to Indian neophytes and Mexican soldiers as payment for service in the military. Of the missions&rsquo eight million acres originally designated as the property of converted Native Americans, 500 land grants are created for influential families.

1842 Discovery of gold in San Fernando by Francisco &ldquoCuso&rdquo Lopez in Placeritas Canyon sparks a town of 60,000.

1843 Manuel Micheltorena, governor of southern California, decrees the restoration of southern missions to church control. This controversial move helps spark the revolution for California self-rule.

1845 Pio Pico&rsquos &ldquoEmancipation Proclamation&rdquo liberates Indians and simultaneously ends the Mission system. Land grants are given to Indians.

1846 Governor Pio Pico sells most of the San Fernando Valley land to Eulogio de Celis before the Mexican War.

1847 Mexican Map of Mexico and the United States.

Above: San Fernando Mission chapel and Indian cemetery, circa 1910s. An unusual marble headstone marks Epiritu Chijulla Leonis' grave. She died in 1906. Image care of CSUN.

1846 - 1848 The Mexican American War results in California becoming part of the United States, along with more than half of former Mexican land. Though the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ends the war, it becomes an issue of contention when existing Californio rights are not honored as promised, and the Treaty is breached.

1847 Agreement of peace (Cahuenga Capitulation) between Fremont and Pico gives Americans control of California in the war. The treaty takes place at the house of Don Feliz (Campo de Cahuenga) near the Cahuenga Pass.

1849 The gold rush in Northern California draws people, and the Valley is cow country full of ranchos that feed them.

1850 California joins the United States Los Angeles County (which includes the San Fernando Valley) initially comprises 4,340 square miles and the first United States Census measures its population at 3,530.

1851 Alexander Bell and David Alexander become the first American landowners in the Valley after Vicente de Osa sells Rancho Providencia. His adobe house eventually becomes state historical monument: Los Encinos State Historical Park.

1853 The Cahuenga Pass is opened for oxcart travel, and a wagon road is built over the mountains between Mission San Fernando and Rancho San Francisquito.

1854 Rancho Ex-Mission de San Fernando falls into hands of Andres Pico who becomes known for his hospitality and entertainment.

1854 The Lankershim family settles in California.

1855 A new road allows lines of stages, trains of wagons and pack mules to travel to Kern River gold fields.

1860 Geronimo Lopez&rsquos adobe home becomes known as the Lopez Station for housing the stagehouse for the Valley.

Above: An 1865 painting &ldquoA Californian magnate in his home. General Don Andres Pico of Los Angeles.&rdquo Southern mission orchard vaqueros lassoing cattle corridor of the farm-building.

Above: Ex-Mission of San Fernando. Plat Map of Rancho Encino, registered 1873, based on 1868 survey.

1869 Lopez Station is Valley&rsquos first official post office.

1872 Charles Nordhoff writes California for Health, Pleasure and Residence. This pamphlet extolls the benefits of living in Southern California in order to be healed of many diseases like tuberculosis. Unknown to his readers, Nordhoff is paid by the Southern Pacific Railroad to praise the curative nature of the region&rsquos climate.

1874 The Southern Pacific Railroad offers service from Los Angeles to San Fernando linking the Valley to Los Angeles more closely.

1874 State senators George K. Porter and Charles Maclay buy the northerly half of the Valley from the Celis heirs. Porter, and partners H.C. Hubbard and F.M. Wright, begin ranching within a year. Senator Maclay goes to the County Recorder in Los Angeles and creates the City of San Fernando (township) through a map of development plans.

1878 Severe drought in the valley leads to a wildfire that destroys 18,000 acres.

1880 San Fernando Farm Homestead Association officially distributes property to stockholders. Los Angeles Farm and Milling Company, the successor to the Homestead Association, promotes wheat and flour-milling industry.

1883 The first newspaper in the Valley is established: the San Fernando Comet.

1884 Major flooding in the Valley occurs and devastates the cattle economy.

1887 A real estate boom partitions up the Valley, beginning with the Lankershim Ranch Land and Water Company, which buys land from the Los Angeles Farm and Milling Company.

1888 Irrigation map care of the David Rumsey Map Collection.

1897 Squatters of the Land Settlers league attempt to squat in the San Fernando Valley under the belief that it is public land for settlement.

1904 James Jeffries, heavyweight boxing champion, makes his home in Burbank. Jeffries is the &ldquogreat white hope&rdquo who comes out of retirement to unsuccessfully fight African American Jack Johnson in 1910.

1907 Los Angeles approves a 23 million dollar bond issue for aqueduct construction from Owens Valley. William Mulholland, engineer, works on Los Angeles Aqueduct.

1908 The Southern Pacific Railroad Station opens at Zelzah.

1909 Harry Chandler of the Los Angeles Times buys land throughout the Valley.

In 1915, the city of Los Angeles annexes the San Fernando Valley - a crucial development as this enables the Valley to gain access to the water coming from Owens Valley from the Los Angeles Aqueduct (completed two years earlier under the direction of William Mulholland). The aqueduct provides a surplus of water to the city in anticipation of its future growth. Without this crucial aqueduct or annexation, the Valley would be vastly different. But the taking of this water destroys the environment and the economy of the Owens Valley, once a beautiful valley known for its migrating birds and diverse, self-sustaining ecosystems.

1915 Universal City officially opens.

1916 Due to the influx of water provided by the LA Aqueduct, Valley residents begin growing oranges.

1918 The Valley reports record crops including 55,000,000 pounds of beans, and a variety of fruits and vegetables including apricots, citrus, peaches, potatoes, and sugar beets. Canning and poultry are also major businesses in the Valley.

1926 The town of Sherman Oaks and the street Sherman Way bear legacy to pioneer of the San Fernando Valley General Moses Hazeltine Sherman.

1927 Valley residents use gas as a means to beat Prohibition and create &ldquomoonshine.&rdquo The gas company teams up with police to monitor any unusually large consumption of gas.

1928 United Airport is named. It will be re-named Union Air Terminal in 1934 and is now known as Bob Hope Airport.

1928 St. Francis Dam is built by the City of LA Bureau of Water Works and Supply in 1925-26. The dam is approximately 200 feet high in San Francisquito Canyon, about 5 miles northeast of what is now Magic Mountain. The dam fails upon its first full filling on March 12, killing 450 people in the San Francisquito and Santa Clara River valleys.

1929 World wide depression devastates local and global economies. President Franklin Roosevelt puts out of work artists to work. Photographs at right by Dorothea Lange of the San Fernando Valley in 1936, care of the Library of Congress.

1931 Residents protest changing the name of Cahuenga to Highland because of the uniqueness of the name Cahuenga. Going back to Native American terms, the word Cahuenga reflects the Native American origins of the San Fernando Valley.

1936 &ldquoRural rehabilitation client. San Fernando Valley, California. Chicken farmer making good on rural resettlement loan. Selling case of eggs a day. On state emergency relief administration job before loan.&rdquo

1940 Rocketdyne&rsquos Santa Susana Field Laboratory is established.

1940 Walt Disney Studios moves to Burbank.

1941- May 29 Disney Studio animators strike Disney due to Walt Disney's inconsistent monetary rewards for better workers. The strike occurs during the making of the animated feature "Dumbo," and a number of strikers are caricatured in the film as clowns who go to "hit the big boss for a raise." The strike lasts five weeks and is settled by a federal mediator.

1941 When the United States joins World War II, the Valley changes from a place of agriculture to manufacturing as part of the war effort and defense institutions like Lockheed. Executive Order 9066 sends 3,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps. Many former Los Angelenos return to the Valley after internment.

1941 Old Trapper&rsquos Lodge Motel with giant trapper sculptures is built as an attraction.

1943 - 1944 The San Fernando Valley is promoted in music and film. &ldquoSan Fernando Valley&rdquo by Gordon Jenkins is recorded and released. Many singers record Jenkins&rsquo song including Bing Crosby (whose version hits #1 on Billboard Magazine&rsquos chart in 1944) and the King Sisters the publicity helps build a population explosion. Celebrities and media promote Valley development. The Westerns &ldquoBells of San Fernando&rdquo and the Western &ldquoSan Fernando Valley&rdquo are released.

1945 Despite the wartime ban against strikes, set designers from the Conference of Studio Unions strike against Warner Brothers film studio for 30 weeks. On October 5, also known as &ldquoHollywood&rsquos Black Friday,&rdquo picketing workers are attacked by executives and studio police, inciting &ldquothe Battle of Warner Brothers&rdquo at their Burbank studios. Producers pelt metal nuts and bolts from the roof and police hose workers and throw tear gas. Strikers overturn three cars in the melee. The strike ends and negotiations are never resolved. This bloody event leads to the passage of the 1947 Taft Hartley Act, which severely restricts workers&rsquo abilities to strike and the power of unions.

1953 After the death of Mrs. Phyllis O&rsquoKray from the crash of a jet plane, Valley residents picket Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Van Nuys to abolish the use of the San Fernando Valley for jet flying. This hastens the move of Lockheed Aircraft Corp to its Palmdale location.

1956 The Pencil House Bottle Building is created by Grandma Prisbrey in Simi Valley.

1956 The San Fernando Valley Campus of the Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences (CSUN) opens. This will be the third institution of higher education founded in the Valley in 1947 Pierce College is founded and in 1949 Valley College opens.

1957 November 12: Edward R. Murrow televises the Sodium Reactor Experiment from the Santa Susana Research Facility on his program as it powered Moorpark. In a PR effort by the Atomic Energy Commission, "See It Now" television show is present to film when the SRE was tied into an Edison substation to light the town of Moorpark. Supposedly, this was the first time a nuclear reactor produces commercial electricity.

1959 Two events at the Santa Susana Research Facility disperse radioactivity. In March the AE-6 Reactor Accident releases contamination. In July the Sodium Reactor Experiment suffers a partial meltdown its estimated release is 240 times that of 3 Mile Island. To the public, it is disclosed as a "parted fuel element" being observed. Official records state that 13 of 43 fuel elements suffered damage. Additional fuel-element handling accidents occurred during the recovery process that resulted in radiological releases to the environment and surrounding communities.

1959 Valley leaders and parents protest the increase in mailed pornography in the community.

1960 The Ventura Freeway, also known as the 101, opens.

1966 A coalition of property owning and tax paying associations come together to create a mass group to protest hikes on property taxes.

1966 The Ku Klux Klan parades down Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City on September 15. Many protest the event.

Between 1967 and 1971 there are six massive demonstrations at San Fernando Valley State College (now known as California State University Northridge) against the lack of representation or curricula related to ethnic studies and the war in Vietnam. The campus has an &ldquoOpen Forum&rdquo where speakers like Angela Davis (above in 1970) speak to students. In March 1968 presidential candidate Robert Kennedy stumps at the college.

1971 Paraplegic protestors hold "wheel-a-thons" around the San Fernando Valley to protest curb designs that hinder the mobility of wheelchairs.

1971 An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale rocks Sylmar and kills 65 people.

1971 The Sylmar Tunnel Disaster strikes when Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company tunnels to bring water from the Feather River to the Los Angeles basin. Although safety inspector Wally Zavattero discovers hazardous conditions and orders precautions taken, they are ignored, leading to an explosion that killed 17 people.

1979 Valley residents march against Rocketdyne&rsquos Canoga Park facility on the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings to protest the dangerous activities of operations involving nuclear energy.

1982 Frank & Moon Unit Zappa record &ldquoValley Girl.&rdquo

1982 Judy Baca with hundreds of others paints "The Great Wall," the world's longest mural, in Valley Glen.

1984 Trapper&rsquos Lodge is made into a state cultural landmark.

1985 Pacoima police use a motorized battering ram to knock a hole into an alleged &ldquorock house,&rdquo home that sells drugs. Residents protest the military level equipment as excessive force.

1987 Senior citizens, specifically, &ldquonotch babies,&rdquo those born between 1917 and 1921 receive fewer social security benefits because of an oversight by Congress. Protesting for equality, the senior citizens gather at the Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Recreation Center to band together.

1991 Motorist Rodney King is pulled over on Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace where 15 LAPD officers in patrol cars converged on him. A local resident videotapes the beating, which becomes a national discussion on police brutality.

1992 The Rodney King trial takes place in Simi Valley with a jury of ten whites, one Latino, and one Asian. The jury acquits the officers. Upon hearing the verdict, hundreds of Los Angelenos begin a protest that turns into a &ldquolive&rdquo televised six-day riot where 53 people die and the total cost of damages equals $1,000,000,000.

1994 – 57 people lose their lives in the wake of the 6.7 magnitude Northridge Earthquake. With twenty billion dollars in damage, it is one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history.

1996 Unrest occurs at California State University Northridge when Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks on campus.

2002 Measure F is designed to approve secession from Los Angeles. Although it initially gains momentum, the measure ultimately fails to garner enough votes.

Over 1,800,000 people live and work in the San Fernando Valley. If the 300 square mile area that is the Valley were a single city, it would be the 5th largest in the nation. Until now, there has been no one museum or institution to document, preserve, and celebrate the full scope of the collective history, culture, and arts of such an important place until the 2005 incorporation of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley.


The battle of Prokhorovka, 12 July 1943

On 11 July SS Panzergrenadier Division Leibstandarte overcame an anti-tank ditch which was to play an important role the following day. Beyond it stretched Hill 252.2, ‘like an enormous wave’. After managing to capture the heights and the Oktiabrskiy state farm on the far side against the resistance of 9 th Guards Paratroop Division, Leibstandarte was only 2.5 km from Prokhorovka. At the same time, however, it had manoeuvred itself into a very exposed position with open flanks. Only a loose connection remained to its right-hand neighbour SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich. An even more dangerous situation had developed on the left wing, which was hanging in the air. Since SS Panzergrenadier Division Totenkopf had attacked northwards rather than eastwards, the two thrust wedges had drafted apart, leaving a gap which Leibstandarte’s Reconnaissance Battalion could only monitor but by no means secure. At that moment an enemy push along the river Psel would inevitably have disastrous consequences. For that reason Leibstandarte was instructed to halt its advance for the time being. II SS Panzer Korps ordered the attack by Division Totenkopf on the dominating Hill 226.6 in the Psel bridgehead to be pressed forward the next day with ‘all the artillery available’ to the korps. Only when this upland north of the Psel had been taken in its entirety should the other two divisions resume their attack. 39

Meanwhile, the Leibstandarte units had been torn apart. On the right wing, south of the railway embankment, stood 1 st SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, and on the left, far forward in the wake of Hill 252.2, 2 nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment. The division’s panzer regiment, on the other hand, was recovering from its exertions in a dip behind Hill 252.2. In reality, the regiment consisted of only one battalion of three companies of Pz IVs (it began the offensive with four companies and 79 operational Panzer IVs), to which a heavy panzer company with four operational Tigers had been attached. As stated the panzer regiment’s other battalion was back in German undergoing conversion to Panthers. Therefore, on 12 July between the railway embankment and the river Psel 5 th Guards Tank Army would only face a single panzer battalion.

Rotmistrov launched the attack around 09.00 (10.00 Moscow time), many of Leibstandarte’s exhausted tank crews were still fast asleep. The foremost German unit at that moment was 2 nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment’s III Battalion. The previous day its infantry had taken Hill 252.2 and occupied the captured trenches. On the morning of 12 July, the following scene took place on that hill: ‘We were all fast asleep when they were suddenly all over us with aircraft and endless mass of tanks with infantry riding on them. It was hell. They were around us, over us, among us. We fought man to man.’

The first German tank officer to see the Soviet tank avalanche was Oberstrumführer Rudolf von Ribbentrop. Looking up at Hill 252.2 that morning he saw violet signal flares, meaning ‘tank alarm’. The signals were ‘seen all along the crest of the slope’ and also appeared ‘farther to the right at the railway embankment’. While the other two panzer companies remained behind the anti-tank ditch, he set off up the hill with his company’s seven Panzer IVs.

On reaching the crest of the slope we saw another low rise about 200 meters away on the other side of a small valley, on which our infantry positions were obviously located… The small valley extended to our left, and as we drove down the forward slope we spotted the first T-34’s which were apparently attempting to outflank us from the left. We halted on the slope and opened fire, hitting several of the enemy. A number of Russian tanks were left burning. For a good gunner 800 meters was the ideal range.

Ribbentrop then saw a huge column of tanks approaching:

As we waited to see if further enemy tanks were going to appear, I looked around… about 150 to 200 metres in front of us there emerged from a slight dip in the terrain 15, 20, 30, 40 Russian T-34s, and then too many to count. The wall of tanks rolled towards us. Tank by tank, wave upon wave, an unimaginable mass of armour approaching at top speed.

The seven German tanks stood no chance against such overwhelming odds. Four were hit immediately, but the other three got away. 40

The attacking formation which appeared so suddenly was the mass of 29 th Tank Corps, led by Maj.-Gen. Kirichenko, consisting of 212 fighting vehicles. 41 The attack at this location was carried out by 31 st and 32 nd Tank Brigades and 53 rd Motorized Rife Brigade, supported by a self-propelled gun regiment and 26 th Guards Paratroop Regiment. Once the tanks had passed the crest of Hill 252.2, they raced down the incline towards the two German panzer companies, which opened fire on them from the declivity. Mistaking the Germans tanks for Tigers, they wanted to eliminate their range superiority as quickly as possible. According to a German eyewitness report, ‘to anyone seeing the whole thing, it looked like the Russians were carrying out a Kamikaze attack’ If the Soviet tanks broke through in depth, it could only result in the collapse of the German front. Then, in a few minutes, the whole picture changed, and the seemingly inevitable victory turned into a catastrophe for the attackers. All because of an incredible Soviet oversight. They had forgotten about their own anti-tank ditch! This 4.5 m- deep obstacle, which we have already mentioned had been dug by Soviet infantry and stretched across the declivity of Hill 252.2 at right angles to the German–now the Soviet–direction of attack. The German defenders watched in amazement as ‘more and more T-34s came over the crest, raced down the slope, and overturned in the anti-tank ditch behind which we were positioned’. Ribbentrop had got away by moving along together with the Soviet fighting vehicles in a thick cloud of dust:

Now the T-34s recognized the ditch and tried to veer left to the road, in order to get across the ditch via the bridge, which had been repaired. What happened then is indescribable […] As they converged on the bridge, the Russians were exposed on the flanks and made easier targets. Burning T-34s ran into and over each other. An inferno of, fire smoke, burning tanks, dead and wounded!

On the other side of the ditch, there were only two German Panzer companies, who would normally have stood no chance of stopping the avalanche of steel. Now it was simply ‘target practice at moving targets’. Finally, the four Tigers came rushing up and were deployed on the division’s left wing.

By noon 2 nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment had recaptured Hill 252.2 and the Oktiabrskiy state farm. The front slope of the hill looked like a tank graveyard, covered with the still-burning wrecks of some 100 Soviet tanks and a few infantry fighting vehicles from III Battalion 2 nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment. On 12 July, according to the logistics files, SS Panzergrenadier Division Leibstandarte seized 190 Soviet tanks abandoned in the areas which it had temporarily lost and then recovered. Most of them were found on the front slope of the hill. Yet the figure reported seemed so incredible that SS Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser, the commanding general of II SS Panzer Korps, drove to the front in person to see for himself. According to the most recent Russian information, on 12 July 29 th Tank Corps alone lost 102 of 212 tanks and assault guns as write-offs (60 T-34s, 31 T-70s, 8 SU-122s, 3 SU-76s). Casualties totalled 1,991, including 1,033 dead and missing.

The photographs which encompass the fighting in the 29 th Tank Corps area of operations are as follows: The 16 July photograph GX-3734-SK-61 and the 7 August photographs GX-3942-SK-69 and GX-3942-SD-124 most strongly relate to the fighting on the line of advance of 32 nd and 31 st Tank Brigades in the central area of the battlefield. 42 The 32 nd and 31 st Tank Brigades advanced with the railway embankment on their left flank and the Oktiabrskiy State Farm (and the surrounding area) on their right flank (See Figures 4–7). This route traversed Hill 252.2 and ultimately the notorious anti-tank ditch at its foot. As the Germans recaptured their forward positions by the end of the day, the front lines of 16 July were virtually identical to that of 12 July. Therefore, photograph GX-3734-SK-61 is truly remarkable it is the sole photograph available that clearly shows the mass destruction of the 29 th Tank Corps. The vast numbers of destroyed Soviet tanks and equipment visible in the anti-tank ditch and the fields immediately in front of the obstacle is astonishing. It is possible to see a mangled mass of Soviet tanks in the left-hand half of the anti-tank ditch (nearest the main road) and many individually destroyed tanks in the right-hand half of the anti-tank ditch (See Figures 8–22). 43 As the crest of Hill 252.2 and the Oktiabrskiy state farm were back in German hands by the end of 12 July, we know that any disabled German tanks in this area were able to be recovered from the battlefield with exception of two Pz IVs which could not be recovered due to enemy fire. We also know that all the destroyed tanks that can be seen on the field of battle in these photographs in the area between the Oktiabrskiy state farm and the anti-tank ditch will almost certainly be Soviet. 44


Watch the video: 30. Juli, bewölkt