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This Day in WWII 19 March 1940 - 1945 *1936


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westinghouseadmarch1943.jpg Westinghouse Ad - March 1943

1940: The RAF retaliates against the Luftwaffe’s bombing of Scapa Flow, by attacking the German seaplane base at Hornum on the island of Sylt with 50 bombers. Later photo reconnaissance reveals little damage to the target.

1941: Churchill forms the 'Battle of the Atlantic' committee in order to afford the highest level of co-ordination against the U-boat menace.

1941: German Naval staff complain to the Italians about their lack of effort to intercept British convoys to Greece.

ritajohnson01.jpg **Rita Johnson

1942: An offensive by Army Group North cuts off the Soviet 2nd Shock Army, commanded by General Vlasov, in a salient between Novgorod and Gruzino. Operation 'Munich' is launched. Joined by a new air detachment, German troops attack partisan bases around Yelnya and Dorogobuzh. Operation 'Bamberg' kicks off near Bobruisk, with SS Police troops attacking Russian villages. The German security forces burn many villages and kill 3,500 people, which only infuriate the Russian civilians more, which encourages many of them join the partisans, making the whole exercise very counter-productive. The 3rd Panzer Army diaries says "There are indications that the partisan movement in the region of Velikiye Luki, Vitebsk, Rudnya, Velizh, is now being organised on a large scale. The fighting strength of the partisans hitherto active, is being bolstered by individual units of regular red army troops."

1942: General Bill Slim is appointed as commander of the 1st Burma Corps, which covers all British, Indian and Burmese troops in Burma. This left General Alexander to concentrate on co-ordination with the Chinese.

ritajohnson02.jpg Rita Johnson

1943: The British Eighth Army begins its offensive against German and Italian defenders of the Mareth line.

1944: The RAF launch Operation Strangle, aimed at German communications in Italy.

1944: The German 352nd Infantry Division deploys along the coast of France.

ritajohnson2.jpg Rita Johnson

1944: In order to ensure Hungary's continued support as an axis partner, Hitler orders its occupation. Eleven German divisions cross the border from Austria into Hungary, encountering minimal resistance.

1944: Hungary's 750,000 Jews, which have so far remained unmolested by the Germans are about to endure a nightmare of mass deportation to the concentration camps as Eichmann arrives in Hungary with his "Special Section Commandos".

1945: The US 8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack (200 bombers and 700 fighters) against Berlin.

ritajohnson3.jpg Rita Johnson

1945: The U.S. Seventh Army take Worms, 60 miles to the Southeast of Koblenz. Hitler orders the demolition of all German industrial, utility and transport facilities in danger of falling into enemy hands; this order (Verbrannte Erde Scorched Earth) is sabotaged by armaments minister Speer and most local commanders.

1945: The Japanese evacuate Mandalay.

1945: The USN hit Kure naval base in the Inland Sea, Southwest of Tokyo.


1945: About 800 people were killed as Kamikaze planes attacked the U.S. carrier Franklin off Japan; the ship, however, was saved.

*1936: The Soviet Union signs a pact of assistance with Mongolia against Japan.

ritajohnson.jpg Rita Johnson

**Rita Johnson was born Rita McSean on August 13, 1913 in Worcester, Massachusetts and attended the New England Conservatory of Music. A former pianist and radio actress, Rita Johnson was on Broadway from 1935 and in films from 1937. An extraordinarily versatile performer, Johnson managed to play virtually every sort of role open to an actress of above-average beauty and intelligence in the 1940s. Portraying standard heroines in such films as "Edison the Man" (1940) and "My Friend Flicka" (1943), Johnson brought far more warmth and humanity to the parts than the scripts provided. She was equally as persuasive as haughty murderess Julia Farnsworth in "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" (1941) and as the hissable "other woman" in films like "The Major and the Minor" (1944). It is positively criminal that no Academy Award came Johnson's way for her astonishing portrayal of the born-to-be-killed wife of unscrupulous Robert Young in 1947's "They Won't Believe Me". Johnson's film career came to a screeching halt after a 1948 accident when a hair dryer fell on her head that required delicate brain surgery; thereafter, her screen time was extremely limited, in keeping with her radically reduced mobility and powers of concentration. After a hair drier supposedly fell on her head and a doctor was called for her, the doctor noted that apart from her current injuries there were a number of old bruises on various parts of her body. Detectives investigating the injuries, however, reported nothing to indicate it was anything other than an accident. Rumors continued but were never confirmed that she was romantically involved with a gangster who had beaten her. Previous beatings, it was alleged, had caused the old bruises. She became an alcoholic after her accident. Fifty-three-year-old Rita Johnson died of a brain hemorhage in her Hollywood home on October 31, 1965. An autopsy showed she suffered from liver disease and alcohol induced encephalitis.


Height: 5' 4¼" (1.63 m)


Edwin Hutzler (1943 - 1946) (divorced)

Stanley Kahn (1940 - 1943) (divorced)

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The Franklin making it home is nothing short of a miracle. She was fully repaired and ready for duty, but by that time it was 1947 and the USN had no need for her. She was decommissioned, mothballed, recommissioned as an attack carrier, refitted, then before even going to sea she was retired. The USN stripped her of her steam turbines and sold her as scrap metal. What a sad end for a ship that refused to die.

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