World War II Day by Day: August 1944

In the Pacific, Japanese defeats at the Battle of the Philippine Sea and around the Mariana Islands, plus losses in Burma, signaled the growing might of the Allies. In Europe, Axis forces suffered reverses and withdrawals in Italy, France, and on the Eastern Front, as the Allies invaded northern France and the Red Army virtually wiped out Army Group Center.

1 August

Eastern Front, Poland

The Warsaw uprising begins. Under the command of Lieutenant General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski, 38,000 soldiers of the Polish Home Army battle with about the same number of German troops stationed in and around the city. Although the two sides are equal in number, the Germans are superior in weapons and can also call on tank and air support. The uprising is designed to free the city from German control and give the Polish government-in-exile in London some influence over the fate of Poland when the Red Army enters the city.

Pacific, Marianas

The battle for the island of Tinian ends. The entire Japanese garrison of 9000 men has been wiped out.

2 August

Eastern Front, Poland

The left wing of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front establishes two bridgeheads across the Vistula River south of Warsaw.

3 August

Far East, Burma

The Japanese withdraw from Myitkyina following an 11-week blockade by Allied forces.

4 August

Politics, Finland

Marshal Karl von Mannerheim succeeds Rysto Ryti as president of the country. Mannerheim makes it clear to the Germans that he is not bound by Ryti’s promises to them.

8 August

Politics, Germany

Eight German officers, including Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben, are hanged at the Ploetzenzee prison in Berlin for their part in the July Bomb Plot against Hitler. They are hanged by piano wire, their last moments recorded on film for Adolf Hitler’s amusement. All the condemned go to their deaths with dignity, despite their callous treatment.

10 August

Pacific, Marianas

Organized Japanese resistance on Guam ends, although it is 1960 before the last Japanese soldier on the island surrenders.

11 August

Western Front, France

Operation Totalize, the Canadian First Army’s offensive toward Falaise, is called off after failing to meet its main objectives.

15 August

Politics, Soviet Union

Moscow announces that the Polish Committee of National Liberation is the official body representing the Polish nation and that de facto all negotiations with the emigre government in London are at an end.

Western Front, France

Units from the US VI Corps and the French II Corps, together with paratrooper support, launch the Allied invasion of southern France, code-named Operation Anvil.

Eastern Front, Ukraine

The Soviet 4th Ukrainian Front, attacking to seize the passes across the Carpathian Mountains, makes some progress but fails to capture the passes themselves.

19 August

Western Front, France

Allied units have closed the Falaise pocket two weeks after the Canadian First Army launched Operation Totalize to cut off the encircled German troops. Some 30,000 German soldiers escape from the pocket across the Seine River, but an estimated 50,000 are captured and another 10,000 killed. In the pocket, which has been continually strafed and bombed by Allied aircraft, are hundreds of destroyed and abandoned German vehicles. Canadian, British, and Polish forces coming from the north link up with the US First Army driving from Argentan.

23 August

Politics, Romania

King Michael orders his forces to cease fighting the Allies and has his pro-Axis premier, Marshal Ion Antonescu, dismissed. He announces that the armistice terms have been accepted.

Western Front, France

The US 36th Division takes Grenoble. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, overrules General Bernard Montgomery, commander of the 21st Army Group, regarding the latter’s plea for a concentrated thrust through the Low Countries into northern Germany. Eisenhower decides that after the capture of Antwerp - a port vital to the Allies - there will be an American assault toward the Saar by General George Patton’s US Third Army.

25 August

Politics, Romania

The former member of the Axis power bloc declares war on Germany.

Western Front, France

US forces in Paris after its liberation. The German commander of the city chose to ignore Hitler's order to destroy it
US forces in Paris after its liberation. The German commander of the city chose to ignore Hitler's order to destroy it

The commander of the German garrison of Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, surrenders the city to Lieutenant Henri Karcher of the French 2nd Armored Division. Choltitz, who has 5000 men, 50 artillery pieces, and a company of tanks under his command, had been ordered by Hitler to ensure that ‘Paris [does] not fall into the hands of the enemy except as a heap of ruins.’ Some 500 Resistance members and 127 other civilians are killed in the fighting for the city.

25-26 August

Western Front, France

The British XII and XXX Corps cross the Seine River.

Italy, Adriatic Sector

The Allied assault on the Gothic Line begins. The German defense line is 200 miles (320 km) long and runs from the valley of the Magra River, south of La Spezia on the west coast, through the Apuan Mountains and the Apennines, ending in the valley of the Foglia River, and reaching the east coast between Pesaro and Cattolica. The assault is conducted by three corps - the British V, Canadian I, and Polish - of the Eighth Army. The plan is to seize the Gemmano-Coriano Ridge complex, thereby unlocking the coastal ‘gate’ and allowing Allied armor to break out to the plains of the Po Valley. However, German resistance is fierce.

27 August

Far East, Burma

The last of the Chindits are evacuated to India.

28 August

Eastern Front, Poland

The Polish Home Army continues to fight in Warsaw, but German air attacks and artillery fire are so heavy that the Poles have been forced into the sewers. Soviet leader Stalin has refused to help the freedom fighters, and so the Red Army awaits the outcome on the far side of the Vistula River.

30 August

Eastern Front, Slovakia

Elements of the armed forces and partisans in the Nazi puppet state stage an uprising against their German overlords as the Red Army approaches the country’s Eastern border.

31 August

Western Front, France

The US Third Army spearheads an advance toward the Meuse River as the British XXX Corps secures all the main bridges over the Somme near Amiens.