March 23rd, 1945 (FRIDAY)
GERMANY: The British 2nd Army and Canadian 1st Army begin Operation Plunder to cross the Rhine.
Speyer: An infantry unit of the US 12th Armoured Division is tasked with taking the city. As they approach a bridge over the Rhine they were ambushed by anti-tank rockets and machine gun fire. The rocket fire appeared to be coming from a nearby warehouse. Private Edward A. Carter volunteered to lead a four man squad to take out the warehouse, which was 150 yards of open terrain away. Two of Carter's men were killed almost immediately; the third was severely injured.
Carter alone got within striking distance, but took five bullets and three pieces of shrapnel before he was able to take cover. Carter waited there for two hours, until the Germans, thinking he was dead, sent out an eight-man patrol to make sure. Carter engaged them single-handedly with his Thompson .45, killing six and capturing two, whom he used as human shields to get back to his company. Carter refused immediate medical treatment, and instead took his commanding officer up to an observation spot where he pointed out several German machine gun nests.
General Vietinghoff takes over in Italy from Field Marshall Albert Kesselring.
FRANCE: Paris: de Gaulle announces a limited form of self-government for Indochina, but insists that Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia remain French colonies or protectorates.
EUROPE: The Allied ground offensive across the Rhine River begins. Supporting the offensive are 2,000 bombers of the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces attacking targets in Germany. The Eighth Air Force has 1,206 B -17s and B-24s attacking 14 marshalling yards and other targets. Over 800 Ninth Air Force A-20s, A-26s and B-26s bomb seven communications centers, a factory and targets of opportunity. The Fifteenth Air Force has 658 B-17s and B-24s bombing an oil refinery, three marshalling yards and a tank factory in Austria and a marshalling yard in Czechoslovakia.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-1003 type VIIC/41 is scuttled 8-10 miles north of Inistrahull beacon, Malin Head after ramming with HMCS New Glasgow on the 20th. March. 18 of the U-Boat crew are dead, but 31 of them survive. (Alec Gordon)
FORMOSA: 47 Fifth Air Force B-24s
RYUKYU ISLANDS: A destroyer assigned to Task Group 58.4 rams and sinks a Japanese submarine. Task Force 58 aircraft attack preinvasion targets on Okinawa.
BONIN ISLANDS: Iwo Jima: The USAAF 21st Fighter Group arrives on the island.
ULITHI ATOLL: After much discussion and indecision, Royal Navy aircraft carriers forming Task Force 57 sortie from Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline
Islands to join Task Force 58 supporting the upcoming invasion of Okinawa. The four carriers, HMS Indomitable, HMS Victorious, HMS Illustrious and HMS Indefatigable are formed into Task Group 57.2.
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