April 17th, 1945 (TUESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: 981 of 1,054 Eighth Air Force B-17s and B-24s bomb rail targets in south-eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia; 756 of the 816 P-47s and P-51 dispatched escort the bombers and then attack ground targets.
GERMANY: Large scale German surrenders begin in the Ruhr area.
Allied bombing has destroyed over a thousand Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground as US troops reach Magdeburg.
The Ninth Air Force's 9th Bombardment Division attacks the defended city of Magdeburg (including numerous gun positions in the area), marshalling yard and ordnance depot at Aalen, marshalling yard and ordnance depot at Tubingen, and ordnance depot at Ravensburg; fighters fly escort to the bombers, fly patrols, area cover, and armed reconnaissance, hit airfields at Marianske Lazne and Michalovy Hory, and support the US 3d Armored Division mopping up south of the Elbe River and west of the Mulde River near Dessau, the 9th Armored Division along the Mulde east of Leipzig, the VIII Corps in the Greiz-Zwickau area, the XX Corps southwest of Chemnitz, the 5th Armored Division at the Knesebeck Forest, south of Wittingen, and the 2d Armored Division opening an assault on Magdeburg.
Bergen-Belsen: There is a pile of naked female corpses here, 80 yards long by 30 yards wide and four feet high. You can't see any faces; just bony elbows, knees and buttocks or twisted hands and feet. It looks like the overladen counter of an insane butcher's shop where flies dance on the mound of greying flesh.
It is two days since the British Army agreed a truce with the local German commander which enabled them to enter the camp peacefully. The Hungarian army guards who stayed on duty "to prevent a mass breakout", have shot dead 83 prisoners for minor offences. Now the British are in full control, and a Jewish sergeant, Norman Turgel, has arrested Josef Kramer, the camp's commandant.
Kramer's men have been disarmed and put to work burying the estimated ten thousand dead lying around the camp. They have to be locked up to protect them from the vengeance of prisoners. Yesterday seven Kapos [prisoner-guards] were savagely beaten to death.
About 30,000 victims, mostly Jews, gypsies and political prisoners, are still alive, but raging epidemics of typhus and dysentery threaten to finish off the deadly work that the Nazis started. British medical staff are now struggling to save lives and halt the spread of disease. Derrick Sington, the first British officer to enter the camp, told how a Hungarian-Jewish girl took him to a clearing: "Three hundred yards away was a mound of bodies, six feet high. A crosswind was blowing and carrying into our nostrils the stench of putrefying flesh."
U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash commandeers over half a ton of uranium at Strassfut, in an effort to prevent the Soviets from developing an A-bomb. Pash was head of the Alsos Group, organized to search for German scientists in the post-war environment in order to prevent the Soviets, previously Allies but now a potential threat, from capturing any scientists and putting them to work at their own atomic research plants. Uranium piles were also rich "catches," as they were necessary to the development of atomic weapons.
The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 957: 1,054 bombers and 816 fighters are dispatched to hit rail targets in eastern Germany and western Czechoslovakia (see above); 50 Luftwaffe fighters are encountered, mostly jets and the AAF claims a total of 300-0-119 aircraft destroyed on the ground and in the air (including 4 jets); 8 bombers and 17 fighters are lost.
- 152 B-17s bomb the rail centre at Dresden and 276 bomb the marshalling yard at Dresden; they claim 1-0-1 aircraft; 6 B-17s are lost. Escorting are 230 P-51s; they claim 2-0-3 aircraft in the air and 91-0-37 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost.
- 76 B-17s bomb the Dresden area and 86 attack the rail junction and station at Aussig; 86 hit the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Dresden; 2 B-17s are lost. 265 P-51s escort claiming 11-0-2 aircraft in the air and 142-0-47 on the ground; 14 P-51s are lost.
- 55 B-24s hit the rail centre and junction at Fischern while 37 bomb the rail junction and bridge at Falkenau. The escort is 228 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 53-0-29 aircraft on the ground; 1 P-51 is lost.
AUSTRIA: 147 Fifteenth Air Force P-38s dive-bomb railroad bridges at Seefeld and Mariahof.
CENTRAL EUROPE: Fifteenth Air Force P-51s, with 10 flying top cover, strafe targets of opportunity in the Munich, Germany, Plzen, Czechoslovakia, and Linz, Austria areas.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: During the Eighth Air Force's Mission 957, 115 B-17s bomb an oil depot and marshalling yard at Roundnice and 36 B-24s bomb the rail junction and industry at Kladno and 61 bomb the railroad, rail industry and marshalling yard at Beroun.
ITALY: The British V Corps captures Argenta.
During the night of 16/17 April, Twelfth Air Force A-20s and A-26 Invaders hit Po River crossings and several towns west and southwest of Bologna; during the day B-25s successfully attack 4 Reno River bridges near Bologna and close support targets on the British Eighth Army front to the southwest, and extensively damage 4 bridges in northern Italy and Austria on the Brenner rail line; XXII Tactical Air Command fighters and fighter-bombers concentrate on close support of the US Fifth Army south and west of Bologna.
The Fifteenth Air Force dispatches 751 B-24s and B-17s, in support of the US Fifth Army, to hit troop concentrations, supply dumps, gun positions, and HQ immediately south and southwest of Bologna; 143 P-51s provide escort.
CHINA: The Fourteenth Air Force dispatches 4 B-25s and 4 P-51s to attack river shipping south of Yiyang; 6 B-25s bomb the area around Kwangsi University at Liang-feng; 2 B-24s bomb the Bakli Bay dock area on Hainan Island; 70+ P-51s and P-40s hit troops, town areas, road traffic, river shipping, and general targets of opportunity at several locations in southern and eastern China including Changsha, Sinning, Sinhwa, Yiyang, Tungting Lake, Paoching, Yungfengshih, Shanhsien, Lingling, Pingsiang, Tsinkong, and Hochih.
BURMA: 18 Tenth Air Force fighter-bombers hit troops and supplies near Mong Kung and Wan Hpun; 12 others attack vehicles and other targets of opportunity along roads south of the bomb line; 489 transport sorties are completed to forward areas throughout the day.
FORMOSA: Far East Air Forces B-24s bomb Taichu, Shinshoshi, Toyohara, and Okayama Airfields and B-25s hit the airfield at Taito.
JAPAN: The XXI Bomber Command flies Missions 70 to 75: 118 B-29 Superfortresses bomb airfields at Tachiarai, Kokubu, Izumi, Nittagahara, and 2 at Kanoya; 5 others attack targets of opportunity; beginning on this date and continuing through 11 May, XXI Bomber Command devotes about 75 per cent of its combat effort to support of the Okinawa campaign; during this period the B-29s fly more than 2,100 sorties against 17 airfields on Kyushu and Shikoku Islands which are dispatching air attacks (including Kamikaze raids) against USN and USMC forces.
OKINAWA: Off Okinawa, destroyer USS Benham (DD-796) is damaged by kamikaze and by friendly fire.
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: In Operation VICTOR FIVE, the U.S. Army's X Corps consisting of the 24th and 31st Infantry Division is landed on Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands, near Malabang, Parang and Cotabato. The landings are supported by the cruisers and destroyers of Task Group 74.2.
The 24th Infantry Division lands near Malabang, Parang, and Cotabato on Mindanao Island by a naval attack group (Rear Admiral Albert G. Noble); the landings are supported by cruiser and destroyer gunfire and USMC aircraft (30 F4U Corsairs and 35 SBD Dauntlesses).
The defenders do not make a determined stand.
Far East Air Forces flies numerous sweeps and sorties in support of ground forces in Luzon, Cebu, Negros, and Mindanao Islands and the Sulu Archipelago. B-24s over Mindanao bomb Cotabato and Kabacan.
BONIN ISLANDS: 18 VII Fighter Command P-51s flying two strikes from Iwo Jima, attack vessels at Futamiko on Chichi Jima.
PACIFIC OCEAN: Four Japanese ships are sunk at sea:
- Mines sink a guardboat off Goto Rette.
- A USN PB4Y-1 Liberator of Patrol Bombing Squadron One Hundred Eleven (VPB-111) based at Palawan AAFld in the Philippines, sinks a cargo ship off the coast of Malaya.
- A mine laid by USAAF B-29 sinks a cargo ship off Shanghai, China.
- A mine laid by USAAF B-29 sinks a cargo ship off Wada Misaki light, Japan.
Japanese submarine RO.56 is sunk by the USS Sea Owl (SS-405) north of Marshall Islands. (Mike Yared)(144 and 145)
U.S.A.: Pete Gray, the one-armed Outfielder, plays his Major League debut game with the St. Louis Browns. He singles once, off Les Mueller, in four at bats, and handles no chances in the outfield. St. Louis beats the Detroit Tigers 7-1, for their 9th straight Opening Day win, a major-league record that the 1975-83 New York Mets will tie. (Rodney Sanders)
Top of Page