Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

The D-Day Invasion: January 1944-July 1944


World War II Timeline: February 7, 1944-February 15-20, 1944

In February 1944, World War II witnessed the heaviest bomb dropped thus far -- and the most intense bombing raid. Summaries of these and other war highlights appear in the timeline that follows.

World War II Timeline: February 7-February 20

February 7: The first U-boat outfitted with a Schnorkel, which allows delivery of outside air to the submerged ship, becomes operational.

February 8: The RAF drops the heaviest bomb of the war thus far, six tons, on the Gnome-et-Rhone aircraft engine manufacturing facility in Limoges, France.

February 9: Dr. George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, questions the necessity of bombing raids against German targets in a speech before the House of Lords. His concerns are rebuffed.

February 10: The Allies are told that Hungary might offer its unconditional surrender, provided that the Soviet Union is not represented at the ceremony.

February 10-11: Nazi Germany's prized battleship Tirpitz once again survives an attempt on its life, this time by the Soviet Union air force.

February 12: Wary of men in his own inner circle who would like to see him dead, Hitler merges the SD (political foreign intelligence organization) and the Abwehr (German military intelligence organization).

February 15: The historic monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy is bombed by the Allies in an effort to root the Germans from their strategically superior hilltop post. Though the monastery is destroyed, the Germans tenaciously hold the hill.

February 15-16: In the most intense raid to date, more than 800 Allied bombers rain destruction on Berlin.

February 15-20: New Zealand takes Green Island in the eastern Solomons, winning an important forward air base.

World War II Headlines

Check out the stories and image below for more World War II news from early 1944, including a U.S. carrier attack on Truk Island and details on "Merrill's Marauders."

U.S. bombards Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands: GIs of the Seventh ("Hourglass") Division manhandle a gun forward during fighting on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. A model amphibious operation, the landing on February 1 was preceded by a naval, air, and artillery bombardment so intense that "the entire island looked as if it had been picked up to 20,000 feet and then dropped," said a witness. Initial U.S. casualties were light, but resistance stiffened on the third day. The island, with its valuable anchorage and airfield, was secured the following day. GI casualties included 142 killed and 854 wounded. Japanese casualties included 4,938 killed and 206 captured.

American "Merrill's Marauders" Special Forces unit formed to operate in Burma: In late 1943, 2,900 American servicemen responded to a presidential call for volunteers for hazardous duty. They formed a Special Forces unit (partly modeled on Orde Wingate's British "Chindits") to operate behind Japanese lines in Burma. "Merrill's Marauders" -- named after their leader, Brigadier General Frank Merrill -- began disrupting Japanese communications and supply lines in February 1944. In five major engagements and many skirmishes, they defeated veteran Japanese soldiers, who greatly outnumbered them. The highly successful Marauders lost 700 men. Nearly that many, including Merrill, had to be hospitalized.

Raids devastate Japanese at Truk Island: Japanese "Jill" torpedo bomber attacks through a hail of anti-aircraft fire during a U.S. carrier attack on Truk Island. As the principal Japanese fleet base in the Pacific, Truk was subjected to repeated U.S. carrier raids. One of the most devastating took place on February 17 and 18, 1944, in conjunction with the Marshall Islands operation. The attack destroyed 250 to 275 enemy aircraft and sank nearly 40 ships of various types. The raids so devastated enemy capabilities at Truk that Admiral Nimitz abandoned plans to invade the island with five U.S. divisions. The once potent enemy bastion was simply bypassed.

Raids devastate Japanese at Truk Island: Japanese "Jill" torpedo bomber attacks through a hail of anti-aircraft fire during a U.S. carrier attack on Truk Island. As the principal Japanese fleet base in the Pacific, Truk was subjected to repeated U.S. carrier raids. One of the most devastating took place on February 17 and 18, 1944, in conjunction with the Marshall Islands operation. The attack destroyed 250 to 275 enemy aircraft and sank nearly 40 ships of various types. The raids so devastated enemy capabilities at Truk that Admiral Nimitz abandoned plans to invade the island with five U.S. divisions. The once potent enemy bastion was simply bypassed.

Get daily World War II highlights of the second half of February 1944 in the next section of this article.

For more timelines and information on World War II events, see:


More to Explore