World War II Timeline: February 23, 1944-March 6, 1944
Among the events of March 1944 was the U.S. bombing of Berlin, in which the U.S. lost a record number of planes. Summaries of World War II events in February and March 1944 are included in this timeline.
World War II Timeline: February 23-March 6
February 23: The Seventh Indian Division of the British 14th Army scores Britain's first military victory over the Japanese, at Sinzweya, Burma.
The Marianas see action for the first time during the war, as the Allies launch a series of air attacks against the Japanese on the islands of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
February 29: Ukrainian Red Army general Nikolai Vatutin is mortally wounded in an attack by Ukrainian nationalists who are fighting for a Ukraine independent of the Soviet Union.
American infantrymen invade the strategically important Admiralty Islands, north of New Guinea.
March 1: Nazi Germany announces that it has detained and enslaved some five million foreign nationals to fulfill the Reich's war-related labor needs.
March 2: More than 400 Italian civilians die on a cargo train when it stalls in a tunnel and asphyxiates them with fumes. The freight cars had become the only means of transportation in a country where all available resources are being devoted to the war effort.
Turkey pays for its stubborn neutrality with the loss of American lend-lease assistance.
March 3: The Allies reveal that the U.S., Britain, and Soviet Union will share equally in the war spoils of the Italian navy.
As many as six million workers in northern Italy strike in protest of deportations of Italians to German slave labor camps.
March 4: The Japanese authorities order schoolchildren as young as 12 to mobilize for the war effort.
March 6: Berlin is bombed by a U.S. force of nearly 700 bombers, but the Americans suffer the loss of 69 planes, a one-day record.
Chinese and American tank forces engage the remnants of a Japanese marine division at Burma's Tanai River.
World War II Headlines
Headlining war news in 1944 were the Allied attacks on Italy and Japan, and the presence of a Hitler relative in the U.S. military. Read the following timeline for more news from this period.
Adolf Hitler's nephew, William Patrick Hitler, sworn into U.S. Navy: Unknown to most Americans but watched very carefully by the FBI, William Patrick Hitler, the nephew of Adolf Hitler, lived with his mother in New York City during the war. He was the son of Hitler's half-brother, Alois, and Alois's Irish-born wife. William and his mother traveled to America for a lecture tour, and they stayed voluntarily there at the start of the war. His attempt to enter the American military in 1942 was stonewalled, but he eventually was sworn in to the Navy in March 1944.
Allies execute dual assaults in Italy: The Allied landing at Anzio and the initial Allied assault on the Italian town of Cassino both took place in January 1944. Allied leadership hoped that the Anzio landing would bypass the Germans' formidable Gustav Line and divert and weaken German defenses at Cassino, the key position on the line. The strategy failed, and fighting dragged on in both places. But in May, the Allies finally broke through both at Anzio and Cassino. Bombing raids left Cassino in ruins.
British Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose, INA fight against the British: Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose became commander-in-chief of the Indian National Army (INA). The INA allied itself with the Japanese during the war. A former president of the Indian National Congress, Bose rejected Mohandas Gandhi's nonviolent resistance to British colonial rule, declaring, "Give me blood and I shall give you freedom!" His 85,000-man INA fought alongside the Japanese in the defeats at Kohima and Imphal. They surrendered following the capitulation of Japan. Though official records claim Bose died in a plane crash in 1945, his actual fate remains uncertain.
British major general Orde Wingate known for eccentricities: Eccentric British major general Orde Wingate wore an alarm clock on his wrist and snacked on raw onions. He first demonstrated a flair for unconventional warfare while fighting Arab insurgents in Palestine. In 1941 he led a guerrilla unit against the Italians in Ethiopia, where his 1,700-man force eventually accepted the surrender of 20,000 enemy soldiers. In 1943 and 1944, he led a long-range penetration brigade, the famed "Chindits," against the Japanese in Burma. Wingate was killed in a plane crash on March 24, 1944.
Japanese war veterans stigmatized In Japan: The popular Japanese rhetoric celebrating heroic death on the battlefield left wounded veterans in an uncomfortable situation when they returned home maimed but alive. An effort was made by the Military Protection Association, part of the Ministry of Welfare, to portray the war-wounded as hakui yûshi (heroes in white). Their presence was encouraged at patriotic rallies and other public events. Still, the unstated feeling that they had somehow failed to meet their obligation to seize victory or die was deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome.
War, earthquake contribute to bleak outlook in Japan: Osaka, Japan, suffered from the effects of Allied attacks and an earthquake. Despite a media brimming with upbeat "victory news," it was becoming clear by 1944 that the war was not going well for Japan. Shortages of food and clothing led to price controls and rationing, while defeats such as the loss of Saipan could not be concealed. Patriotic slogans -- "Deny one's self and serve the nation" -- proliferated in an effort to stiffen Japanese resolve. Despite their skepticism about the news, the general population was prepared to fight to the end.
Find out how World War II progressed through March 1944 in the next section of this article. A detailed timeline of events and headlines of major news stories are included.
For more timelines and information on World War II events, see: