World War II Day by Day: July 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.

2 July

Italy, Tuscany

The British XIII Corps takes the town of Foiano, northwest of Lake Trasimeno, thereby completing the breakthrough of the German Albert Line.

4 July

Eastern Front, Baltic

Paratroopers belonging to the US 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment land on Kamirir airstrip, Noemfoor, July 2, 1944
Paratroopers belonging to the US 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment land on Kamirir airstrip, Noemfoor, July 2, 1944

The Red Army offensive to clear the Baltic states begins. Three Soviet Fronts - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Baltic - are to be used. The Baltic states are of major importance to Germany, as they are a major source of food and enable the Germans to blockade the Russian fleet and keep supply lanes to Sweden and Finland open.

7-9 July

Pacific, Marianas

The Japanese commander on Saipan, General Yoshitsugu Saito, launches a mass charge against the US 27th Infantry Division at Makunsho. Despite losing hundreds of men to US gunfire, the Japanese crash through the American lines. However, they soon lose their momentum and fail. Saito commits suicide and the island is declared secure on the 9th. At least 8000 Japanese defenders and civilians have committed suicide rather than surrender.

8 July

Politics, Hungary

With the Red Army fast approaching, Hungary’s leader, Admiral Mikl—s Horthy, orders a halt to the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp.

11 July

Politics, United States

President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces he will run for an unprecedented fourth term in the White House.

Eastern Front, Belorussia

The Minsk area falls to the Red Army. The Germans have lost over 70,000 men killed and 35,000 taken prisoner, and their Fourth Army has ceased to exist.

15 July

Eastern Front, Finland

The battle for the Karelian Isthmus ends with a defensive victory for Finland. Three Soviet armies make excellent early progress, but are unable to achieve the objectives laid down in their orders of June 21. The Soviet military leadership orders its troops in Finland to go over to the defensive on the 11th.

17 July

Eastern Front, Ukraine

Units of the Soviet First Guards Tank Army cross the Bug River into Poland.

18 July

Far East, Burma

The Japanese high command calls off Operation U-Go.

18-22 July

Western Front, France

In the face of fanatical resistance, US troops enter St. Lô. The German 352nd Division is destroyed in the process. On the Eastern sector of the Front, the British and Canadians launch Operation Goodwood, a drive east of Caen to provoke heavier German concentrations in the area. The aim is to wear down German armor to such an extent that it is of no further value to them. The Allies lose over 100 Sherman tanks in the assault. By the 22nd, however, the British have cleared southern Caen.

19-21 July

Pacific, Marianas

US battleships begin the pre-invasion bombardment of Asan and Agat beaches on Guam, the most important island in the Marianas group. Two days later, troops of the 3rd Marine Division and 77th Infantry Division begin landing on the island. The Japanese fight back hard.

20 July

Politics, Germany

An attempt is made by German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Count Schenk von Stauffenberg, chief-of-staff to General Friedrich Fromm, plants a bomb near Hitler in a conference room at the Nazi leader’s East Prussian headquarters at Rastenburg. The bomb explodes at 1242 hours, after von Stauffenberg has left. The bomb fails to kill Hitler and the conspiracy falls apart. Josef Goebbels, Nazi minister for propaganda, acts quickly to convince the Berlin garrison that Hitler is still alive by linking them by telephone. Fromm, to allay suspicions of his involvement in the plot, has von Stauffenberg shot in the evening. The failure of the plot results in the arrest, torture, and execution of dozens of suspects in the following months. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is among the most notable of those senior military figures aware of the conspiracy.

21 July

Politics, Poland

The Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation is formed.

23 July

Italy, Tuscany

After taking the vital port of Livorno on the 19th, the US 34th Division enters the town of Pisa.

25 July

Western Front, France

Operation Cobra, the Allied breakout from Normandy, begins. Following a massive aerial bombardment, three infantry divisions of General J. Lawton Collins’ US VII Corps open a breach in the German line between Marigny and St. Gilles, allowing the armor to get through. Within five days, the US spearhead reaches Avranches, turning the west flank of the German Front.

25-29 July

Pacific, Marianas

Same task, different island - flushing out Japanese defenders on Tinian, one of the Mariana Islands, with a pack howitzer
Same task, different island - flushing out Japanese defenders on Tinian, one of the Mariana Islands, with a pack howitzer

A Japanese counterattack against the US 3rd Marine Division on Guam is defeated. The Japanese lose 19,500 dead, while US fatalities number 1744. On the 24th, the US 4th Marine Division lands on the island of Tinian.

27-30 July

Eastern Front, Ukraine

The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front liberates Lvov, and goes on to establish several bridgeheads on the Vistula River by the 30th.

30 July

Western Front, France

Avranches falls to the US VIII Corps.