Time, December 7 1942 edition:
BATTLE OF ASIA: The Gorge of the Wu-ti Ho - TIME: Japan is curled like a cobra at the back door of China. Last week Japan was cobra-quiet, but China and her allies were alert. U.S. and R.A.F. planes harassed the enemy from the air. Brigadier General Claire Chennault's China-based air forces, in their most destructive raid of the war, blasted Haiphong in Indo-China, destroying shipping and munition dumps. Chennault's tactics were brilliant. Lightning-like, he struck around the compass. R.A.F. and U.S. pilots from India attacked Jap airdromes in Thailand and Burma. And in Yunnan, China's southernmost province, the troops of General Chiang Kai-shek waited in the jungles. Theirs was the...
BATTLE OF THE PACIFIC: One Year of War - TIME: The first year was ending, and it had been a Navy year. The tall, taut man who is both Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet (COMINCH) and Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) let his mind go back to the morning of Pearl Harbor, and observed that the Japanese probably had not expected their attack to be so successful. Said Admiral Ernest Joseph King: "If they had it to do over, I think you would probably find them moving in with a tremendous invasion force such as they brought against us...
BATTLE OF AFRICA: Toward the Fire - TIME: All last week the British First Army, bolstered by U.S. and French units, continued its slow, careful advance. Steadily Lieut. General Kenneth A. N. Anderson's troops edged over the steep ridges of the Atlas Mountains. At week's end they were twelve miles from Tunis. The decisive battle for North Africa was imminent. Weather had delayed the Allies. Tunisia's brief rainy season had flooded roads, complicated supply problems. But worse than the rain in Africa's grey skies were Axis planes that pummeled Anderson's forward columns, pounded his bases at Bougie and Bone, trying...
BATTLE OF FRANCE: The Execution of Order B - TIME: In the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 27, Marshal Petain was awakened in Vichy to receive a letter from Adolf Hitler. His eyes still bemused by sleep, the old man read the words that ended his last vain hope of building up a new French state on the terms of the armistice signed at Compiegne. Because of "treachery" on the part of high officers of the French armed forces, the Führer wrote, he had ordered the demobilization of the remaining units of Vichy's Army and Navy. The great naval base of Toulon,...
BATTLE OF RUSSIA: Hitler's Lost Gamble - TIME: Hitler had lost the gamble. Instead of consolidating his eastern front he had gambled on the capture of Stalingrad. But Stalingrad had held out and now was striking back at his advanced columns. In the midst of Herr Hitler's frantic preoccupation with Africa the Russian winter offensive had exploded. In the central sector around Rzhev the Russians launched another attack. In both sectors Hitler's troops stumbled backward over the frozen graves of Axis soldiers who had already died in the attempt to conquer Russia. At Stalingrad. One night a fortnight ago the...
…worn men of Major General Alexander Rodintsev's 13th Guards Division crouched in their holes in the northwest district of Stalingrad and listened to sudden thunderous cannonading. The din was their own artillery.
It was the hour for which the 13th had waited. They were tough, soft-spoken men from Omsk and Barnaul in faraway Siberia. They had arrived in Stalingrad by forced marches—125 miles in one two-day trek—and there in the battered factories had taken up their positions. For six weary weeks, under almost ceaseless shelling and air assaults, hacked at by infantry and tanks, the gaunt 13th had held the ditches, the doorways, the alleys and the gutted buildings. On their holding depended the success of Marshal Timoshenko's strategy.
Southeast of Stalingrad, Timoshenko's forces were moving up. Under cover of subfreezing nights thousands of Russian soldiers were crossing the icy Volga on ferry boats, fishing boats and rafts, carrying with them the artillery, tanks and weapons they would need for a massive counterattack. Behind the bald, rolling Ergeni Hills south of Stalingrad, hidden by mists, they gathered and waited. In the cold dawn of Nov. 20 they attacked.
"The hour of stern, righteous reckoning with the foul enemy, the German Fascist occupants, has struck," said the Order of the Day. "Make the enemy's black blood flow in a river. Comrades, into the attack!"
"The Foul Enemy." In the Ergeni Hills the artillery awakened. That was the long awaited thunder heard by the silent men of the 13th. The cannonading kept up without break for two and a half hours, pouring destruction into the German lines, disrupting communications, softening resistance. Under its cover Russian sappers swept forward to "delouse" German minefields. Over the frozen earth rolled Russian tanks, some of them dragging artillery. Mobile cannon followed, operating in massed groups, blasting holes in German positions that had already been spotted by Russian guerrilla intelligence. Night came and there was no letup.
As the attack started from the south, Soviet troops north of Stalingrad also launched an assault, moving in a great arc toward Serafimovich. Their purpose was to swing west and south, meet the southern columns and close a ring around the Germans (see map). From Serafimovich prongs spread out like the curving tines of a peasant's pitchfork. From the southern force, moving along the Stalingrad-Novorossiisk railway, prongs also curved off. One jabbed across the Don, severed the Stalingrad-Rostov railway, cut back east to squeeze Axis troops against Stalingrad. In Stalingrad itself the 13th Division began to bend the stubborn German head backward.
Inside the contracting area the battle became a melee. Distracted Axis troops faced in all directions at once. Panzer divisions dug in, using their tanks as pillboxes. Across the steppes galloped Cossacks in their black capes. Around gutted villages roared Russian tanks, swift motor-borne Siberian infantry.
Drang nach Osten. During last winter's campaign thousands of German soldiers were slain as they edged backward before a battering Russian offense. But few were captured. It was a different story last week.
Axis troops in suddenly hopeless positions gave up. Across the steppes plodded long lines of Axis prisoners hobbling to Russian bases, some to have frozen limbs amputated, stumbling toward the Volga in a Drang nach Osten such as der Führer never pictured. According to Moscow communiqués, 66,000 were seized in ten days of fighting. Into Russian hands fell quantities of booty: food, clothing, more than 50,000 rifles, 3,935 machine guns, 1,380 tanks.
It was possible that many an Italian and Rumanian and even German soldier had lost his appetite for winter combat. Though Hitler had promised his armies that they would be properly clothed, the bitter northeast winds that drove snow and sand across the endless steppes last week blinded eyes, lashed flesh, cut through coats that were lined with mole and rat skins.
But a more likely explanation for the toll of prisoners was the swiftness of the Russian attack. Hitherto, Russian assaults have been battering operations carried out largely by pedestrian troops. For the first time in the war Timoshenko had mounted an agile, Panzer-type, fast-moving attack that encircled and overwhelmed. The Germans were apparently surprised as much by this as by the suddenness of the onslaught.
The Germans suffered also from lack of air support. Obviously Hitler had weakened the Luftwaffe, which once ruled Russian skies, to bolster the Axis forces in Tunisia. When the fighting began, planes of both sides were grounded in heavy mists. When the mists cleared, German air bases had been captured and many German planes had been destroyed on the ground. Then it was the Red Air Forces' Stormoviks which took control of the air.
At Rzhev. Six hundred miles to the north, west of Moscow, the Russians had launched another offense. It began, as the one in Stalingrad began, with an artillery barrage. The Moscow front lay under a white blanket of snow. Cossack cavalrymen wrapped their horses' hoofs in burlap to deaden the sound and get a better footing on hard crust. Artillery was mounted on skis. On their first plunge into the deep and long-held German defenses the Russians reached the village of Velikie Luki, 90 miles from the border of Latvia.
Rzhev, powerful Axis anchor, was bypassed. But the Russians claimed that the line from Rzhev to Vyazma in the south was cut. If that was true, another encirclement was developing which might isolate one of the strongest fortified positions along Germany's whole Russian front.
It had not developed at week's end. The Russians had isolated Velikie Luki; they had broken three rail lines and had put four German infantry divisions and one tank division to rout. But, compared to the Stalingrad offense, the Rzhev action was so far only a knocking against the German dam.
The knocking was full of potentialities. Moscow elatedly declared that it demonstrated the Soviets' ability to launch powerful offensives in two places at once. For Hitler it added complications. His communication lines were already hard-pressed, long-extended. He would not know where the Russians might suddenly concentrate their strength, where they would strike next.
In the south, his force of 300,000 troops around Stalingrad were in danger of entrapment and annihilation. In the last ten days some 100,000 of his soldiers had been slain. A column that the Russians launched along the Stalingrad-Novoros-siisk railroad had traveled 90 miles by week's end, could become a threat to his armies in the northern Caucasus. Those armies had already been pushed back from Ordzhonikidze and the Grozny oilfields. Now they faced the danger of being cut off. A hole anywhere along the front—from the Caucasus to Leningrad—might open the dike to a Red flood.