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This Day in WWII 5 July 1940 - 1945

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AllisonAircraftEngines-July1942.jpg

Allison Aircraft Engines - July 1942

 

1940: President Roosevelt lays down 'five fundamentals of freedom': freedom from fear, of information, of religion, of expression, and from want.

 

1940: The RAF carries out night raids on Kiel and Wilhelmshaven.

 

Maureen%20OHara1.jpg *Maureen O'Hara

 

1940: The British destroyer Whirlwind is sunk by U-34 off Land's End.

 

1940: Romania announces its alignment with the Axis powers.

 

1940: In retaliation for the British action at Mers-el-Kebir, Vichy French warships based at Dakar capture 3 British merchant ships, while French aircraft stationed in Morocco attack British shipping off Gibraltar.

 

Maureen%20OHara2.jpg Maureen O'Hara

 

1941: Foreign Secretary Eden categorically rules out possibility of negotiating with Hitler.

 

1941: The RAF carries out night raids on Münster and Bielefeld.

 

Maureen%20OHara3.jpg Maureen O'Hara

 

1941: Units of German 6th Army break through the Stalin Line East of Lvov, while Panzer Group 1 continues its advance toward Zhitomir and Berdichev in the Ukraine.

 

1941: General Wavell is relieved of his command as C-in-C of the Middle East, by General Sir Claude Auchinleck.

 

Maureen%20OHara4.jpg Maureen O'Hara

 

1942: Advanced units of 4th Panzer Army reach the Don north and south of Voronezh, which causes the Russians to begin its evacuation.

 

1942: Upon learning that the covering force for PQ-17 had fled and the convoy had scattered. Admiral Raeder secured Hitlers approval to use the German surface force, although caution was to be exercised in order not to risk the sinking or damage of the Battleship Tirpitz, pocket battleship Admiral Scheer or heavy cruiser Hipper. Escorted by 7 destroyers and 2 E-boats, the 3 big German ships sailed from Altenfiord at 3pm. As the force left moved in to open seas, the soviet submarine K-21 saw and attacked the Tirpitz, but its torpedos missed. An hour later an RAF Coastal Command Catalina reported the force as at sea and a further two hours later HMS Unshaken, radioed in a sighting and an exact description of the force. Hearing of these allied sightings through allied intelligence, Admiral Raeder became nervous and cancelled the sortie, ordering the surface fleet to return to port leaving the Luftwaffe and U-boats to finish off PQ-17.

 

1942: Axis troops start laying minefields in front of their positions at El Alamein.

 

Winchester-July1943.jpg Winchester Repeating Arms Co. Ad - July 1943

 

1943: The Germans launch operation 'Citadel', their last major offensive on Russian Front on a 200-mile front, with the 9th Army attacking from the North and 4th Panzer Army attacking from the South. The Germans have deployed 37 divisions totaling 900,000 men, which include 11 Panzer divisions with 2,500 tanks and assault guns, 10,000 guns and Nebelwerfers, as well as 1,800 aircraft. Against this, the Red Army has 1,300,000 troops in deeply echeloned defensive positions, protected by 8,000 land mines per square mile, 3,300 tanks, 20,000 guns and 2,500 aircraft. Taken together, the opposing forces in this operation constitute the largest concentration of military power ever assembled in history. In the northern sector, the Germans advance 6 miles, while in the southern sector they manage 25 miles against stubborn Soviet resistance which inflicts heavy casualties.

 

1943: A Naval battle erupts in Kula Gulf, North of New Georgia. The US Navy loses the cruiser Helena, but claims eight or nine Japanese ships have been sunk.

 

Maureen%20OHara5.jpg Maureen O'Hara

 

1944: German U-boats begin operations off the Normandy coast, sinking 4 small allied warships and damaging the British cruiser Dragon.

 

1945: SHAEF says of the 5.8m displaced persons (found in the Anglo-American Zone, 3.26m have been repatriated and 2.53m, mostly Eastern Europeans) still remain in repatriation camps.

 

1945: MacArthur announces the liberation of the whole of the Philippines, although sporadic fighting continues until after the Japanese surrender. U.S. losses total 11,921 dead and 42,970 injured or captured.

 

1945: The Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin, dies.

 

Maureen%20OHara6.jpg Maureen O'Hara

 

*In America, the early performing arts accomplishments of young Maureen FitzSimons (who we know as Maureen O'Hara) would definitely have put her in the child prodigy category. However, for a child of Irish heritage surrounded by gifted parents and family, these were very natural traits. Maureen made her entrance into this caring haven on August 17, 1920, in Ranelagh (a suburb of Dublin), Ireland. Her mother, Marguerita Lilburn FitzSimons, was an accomplished contralto. Her father, Charles FitzSimons, managed a business in Dublin and also owned part of the renowned Irish soccer team "The Shamrock Rovers". Maureen was the second of six FitzSimons children - Peggy, Florrie, Charles B. Fitzsimons, Margot Fitzsimons and James O'Hara completed this beautiful family.

 

Maureen loved playing rough athletic games as a child and excelled in sports. She combined this interest with an equally natural gift for performing. This was demonstrated by her winning pretty much every Feis award for drama and theatrical performing her country offered. By age 14 she was accepted to the prestigious Abbey Theater and pursued her dream of classical theater and operatic singing. This course was to be altered, however, when Charles Laughton, after seeing a screen test of Maureen, became mesmerized by her hauntingly beautiful eyes. Before casting her to star in "Jamaica Inn" (1939), Laughton and his partner, Erich Pommer, changed her name from Maureen FitzSimons to "Maureen O'Hara" - a bit shorter last name for the marquee.

Under contract to Laughton, Maureen's next picture was to be filmed in America "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939) at RKO Pictures. The epic film was an extraordinary success and Maureen's contract was eventually bought from Laughton by RKO. At 19, Maureen had already starred in two major motion pictures with Laughton. Unlike most stars of her era, she started at the top, and remained there - with her skills and talents only getting better and better with the passing years.

 

Maureen has an enviable string of all-time classics to her credit that include the aforementioned "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "How Green Was My Valley" (1941), "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947), "Sitting Pretty" (1948), "The Quiet Man" (1952), "The Parent Trap" (1961) and "McLintock!" (1963). Add to this the distinction of being voted one of the five most beautiful women in the world and you have a film star who was as gorgeous as she was talented.

Although at times early in her career Hollywood didn't seem to notice, there was much more to Maureen O'Hara than her dynamic beauty. She not only had a wonderful lyric soprano voice, but she could use her inherent athletic ability to perform physical feats that most actresses couldn't begin to attempt, from fencing to fisticuffs. She was a natural athlete.

 

In her career Maureen starred with some of Hollywood's most dashing leading men, including Tyrone Power, John Payne, Rex Harrison, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Brian Keith, Sir Alec Guinness and, of course, her famed pairings with "The Duke" himself, John Wayne. She starred in five films with Wayne, the most beloved being "The Quiet Man" (1952).

 

Maureen%20OHara7.jpg Maureen O'Hara

 

In addition to famed director John Ford, Maureen was also fortunate to have worked for some other great directors in the business: Alfred Hitchcock, William Dieterle, Henry Hathaway, Henry King, Jean Renoir, John M. Stahl, William A. Wellman, Frank Borzage, Walter Lang, George Seaton, George Sherman, Carol Reed, Delmer Daves, David Swift, Andrew V. McLaglen and Chris Columbus.

 

In 1968 Maureen found much deserved personal happiness when she married Charles Blair. Gen. Blair was a famous aviator whom she had known as a friend of her family for many years. A new career began for Maureen, that of a full-time wife. Her marriage to Blair, however, was again far from typical. Blair was the real-life version of what John Wayne had been on the screen. He had been a Brigadier General in the Air Force, a Senior Pilot with Pan American, and held many incredible record-breaking aeronautic achievements. Maureen happily retired from films in 1973 after making the TV movie "The Red Pony" (1973) (TV) (which won the prestigious Peabody Award for Excellence) with Henry Fonda. With Blair, Maureen managed Antilles Airboats, a commuter sea plane service in the Caribbean. She not only made trips around the world with her pilot husband, but owned and published a magazine, "The Virgin Islander", writing a monthly column called "Maureen O'Hara Says".

 

Tragically, Charles Blair died in a plane crash in 1978. Though completely devastated, Maureen pulled herself together and, with memories of ten of the happiest years of her life, continued on. She was elected President and CEO of Antilles Airboats, which brought her the distinction of being the first woman president of a scheduled airline in the United States.

 

On 24 October 2015, Maureen O'Hara died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho from natural causes. She was 95 years old. O'Hara was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia next to her late husband Charles Blair.

 

MartinAircraft-July1944.jpg Martin Aircraft Ad - July 1944

 

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