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July 12th, 1943 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: The birth rate in the United Kingdom reached its highest for 17 years in the first quarter of 1943, despite the fact that so many families have been parted by war service. The rate of 16.8 births per 1,000 of the population is equivalent to 684,000 births over a year. In 1940 and 1941 there was a marked drop in the birth rate compared with peacetime. The marriage rate has now sunk to its lowest since the war began. Deaths have also declined to below the 1939 figure.

Churchill today says "Propagate our language all over the world is best method. Harmonizes with my ideas for future of the world. This will be the English-speaking century." (William Ritchart)

GERMANY: U-865 launched.

ITALY: SICILY: British and US forces join up at Ragusa, having captured six airfields, the port of Syracuse and ten other towns.
Nearly 300 Lancasters of RAF Bomber Command attack Turin.

USAAF Ninth Air Force B-24s attack the harbor, ferry slip, and marshalling yard at Reggio di Calabria, and the ferry slip and railroad yards at Villa San Giovanni. Royal Air Force heavy bombers bomb Reggio di Calabria Airfield.

In Sicily during the night of 11/12 July, Northwest African Strategic Air Force Wellingtons pound Trapani, Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, and Montecorvino-Rovello Airfield and the Northwest African Air Force Troop Carrier Command drops paratroops in front of the forward lines in the battle area; more than 20 C-47 Skytrains fail to return from the mission. 

During the following day, B-17 Flying Fortresses hit Messina railroad bridges, medium and light bombers hit Gerbini satellite fields, Agrigento, Canicatti, and Milo Airfield. Fighters hit trucks, trains, troops, tanks, and other targets of opportunity during sweeps over Sicily. Northwest African Tactical Air Force fighters and light bombers hit Milo Airfield, Sicilian beaches, Termini harbor and town, Ninfa rail junction, several trains, numerous vehicles, and communications targets throughout Sicily. Northwest African Coastal Air Force aircraft fly convoy escort and carry out shipping strikes in Tyrrhenian Sea and west of Corsica and Sardinia.

The USAAF Ninth Air Force B-25 Mitchells hit Bo Rizzo Airfield while P-40s patrol over the Licata area. On the ground in Sicily, with bridgeheads firmly established by the end of day, British and US troops make contact at Ragusa.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: U-409 sunk in the Mediterranean NE of Algiers, in position 37.12N, 04.00E, by depth charges from destroyer HMS Inconstant. 11 dead and 37 survivors.

U-561 sunk in the Straits of Messina, in position 38.16N, 15.39E, by torpedoes from HM MTB 81. 42 dead, 5 survivors.

Minesweeper USS Sentinel bombed and sunk by German aircraft off Licata, Sicily.

Italian submarine Bronzo was captured off Syracuse, Sicily by minesweepers HMS Seaham, Boston, Poole and Cromarty. Bronzo was commissioned into the RN as HMS P-714. On 29 January 1944 she was transferred to the Free French as Narval.

U.S.S.R.: The 4th Panzer Army fails in a final effort to advance toward Prokhorovka.

Army Group South is bogged down near Taganrog and Stalino. At the end of the day Hitler orders the Kursk battle be discontinued. This marks a concession by the Germans of the strategic initiative to the Soviets for the duration.

186 German tanks participate in a battle at Prochorovka. Three German tanks are lost, 235 Russian tanks are lost. (Peter Kilduff)(280)

Krasnagorsk: Germans in a PoW camp form a "National Committee for a Free Germany."

The Red Army launches a major counter-offensive at Orel.

NEW GUINEA: At Mubo with US infantry on the right flank threatening to cut off their withdrawal route, the Japanese abandon Mubo and withdraw to the Mount Tambu line. 

Observation Hill is occupied on 12 July. Mubo airstrip is ready for medevac by 14 July. Allied casualties are light. (Michael Mitchell)

SOLOMON ISLANDS: The Thirteenth Air Force continues to support the Allied invasion of New Georgia Island. Ten B-25 Mitchells attack Vila Airfield on Kolombangara Island, which is hit later in the day by B-24s on armored reconnaissance and 17 B-24s pound the airfield on Ballale Island. Several fighters join US Navy dive bombers in strikes on AA and bivouacs in the Munda area on New Georgia.
Task Group 36.9 consisting of four light cruisers and two destroyers bombards Munda Airfield on New Georgia Island. Japanese air attacks continue against New Georgia and Army Air Forces P-40 and Marine F4U Corsair pilots shoot down six A6M "Zekes" around 0800 hours and a P-38 Lightning pilot shoots down a G4M "Betty" around 2000 hours.

Japanese submarine Ro-107 was sunk by USS Taylor off Kolombangara.

AUSTRALIA: Minesweeper HMAS Strahan launched.

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: After refuelling 500 miles (805 km) southwest of Kiska  Island, Aleutian Islands and awaiting foggy weather, the Japanese task force tasked with evacuating the troops on Kiska gets underway. However, the fog lifts and the task force begins withdrawing to Paramushiru Island in the Kurile Islands.

U.S.A.: An Armed Forces All-Star team managed by Babe Ruth and featuring Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams play a fund-raising game against the Boston Braves in Boston, Massachusetts; the All Stars win on a Ted Williams' home run, 9-8.

Frigate USS Gloucester launched.

Submarines USS Pampanito and Picuda launched.

Destroyer USS O'Brien laid down.

CANADA: Minesweeper HMS Seabear (ex-HMS St Thomas) laid down Toronto, Ontario.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: A B-24 of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy), AAF Antisubmarine Command, based at Port Lyautey, French Morocco, sinks U-506 with 7 depth charges at 1550 hours local in the Atlantic west of Vigo, Spain at 42-30N 16-30W. The U-boat was located by 10cm radar which the Germans could not detect. About 15 men were seen in the water after the boat broke in two and the B-24 crew dropped a liferaft and a smoke flare to assist the survivors; 6 men were picked up from the sea by a British destroyer on 15 July, 3 days after the sinking.

90 miles off Recife Brazil U-185 was attacked by a USN VB-107 Liberator. The boat was not damaged much and reported the attack by radio, although the bomber crew believed the boat to have sustained serious blows.

At 0656, the unescorted and zigzagging African Star was hit by a torpedo from U-172, which struck the port side at the #4 hold. The explosion blew the hatch covers off the #4 and #5 holds, disabled the generator, the steering controls and the radio aerials. One armed guard was blown overboard and drowned. The engines were secured as the ship began to list to port, slowly settled and lost way. Eight officers, 48 men and 30 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5-in and one 3-in and eight 20-mm guns) left the ship in two lifeboats (one containing 45 men and the other 37) and a raft. At 0718, a second torpedo from U-172 struck the African Star on the starboard side between #4 and #5 holds. She broke in two and sank within one minute. Then U-172 surfaced about 1000 yards from the ship and took a few men on board. After questioning the men, the Germans gave directions to the nearest land and returned them to the boats. One lifeboat was equipped with an emergency transmitter and sent SOS, later aircraft spotted the boats and 37 hours after the attack the Brazilian destroyer Maranhao picked up the survivors and landed them at Rio de Janeiro. The master John George Waller was also master of the Challenger, which was sunk on 17 May 1942 by U-155.

Three Beaufighters attacked U-441. 10 men were killed and 13 more wounded, including most of the naval officers.

A torpedo explosion on board of U-709 killed 2 men and wounded another.

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