Raymond Spruance is promoted to vice admiral, in preparation for his return to sea after a year working as Nimitiz's chief-of-staff.
The Quiet Admiral, A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Thomas B. Buell. This is widely considered to be the best biography of Spruance, currently available in this reissued edition. Buell nicely contrasts Spruance with Halsey, his co-commander of the combined third and fifth fleets from 1944, as well as looking at his handling of Midway, the battle that made his name.
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Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day, holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19. Juneteenth is celebrated on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is also called Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day. The name “Juneteenth” references the date of the holiday, combining the words “June” and “nineteenth.”
When is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19.
What is the origin of Juneteenth?
Juneteenth was originally celebrated in Texas, on June 19, 1866. It marked the first anniversary of the day that African Americans there first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after it was initially issued. The holiday was originally celebrated with prayer meetings and by singing spirituals and wearing new clothes to represent newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans were celebrating Juneteenth in other states, making it an annual tradition. Learn more.
Is Juneteenth a federal holiday?
Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States. Legislation establishing the holiday was passed by Congress on June 16, 2021, and signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden the following day. Juneteenth had previously been established as a state holiday in Texas in 1980, with a number of other states later declaring it a state holiday or day of observance.
How is Juneteenth celebrated?
Juneteenth celebrations in the United States typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with food, music, and dancing. The day is also celebrated outside the United States and is used to recognize the end of slavery as well as to celebrate African American culture and achievements.
How did the American civil rights movement affect Juneteenth celebrations?
Juneteenth celebrations in the United States declined in the 1960s, overshadowed by the civil rights movement. However, the holiday began to regain its importance in 1968 when the Poor People’s Campaign, originally led by Martin Luther King, Jr., held a Juneteenth Solidarity Day. Interest in Juneteenth continued to increase in the following decades, and the first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration was held in Texas in 1980.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals, and celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans in other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued across the United States into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing.
Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. The day is also celebrated outside the United States, with organizations in a number of countries using the day to recognize the end of slavery and to celebrate the culture and achievements of African Americans.
U.S. Recognition of Canadian Independence, 1927 .
The United States recognized Canada as an independent state with autonomous control over its foreign relations on February 18, 1927 , when Vincent Massey presented his credentials in Washington as Canadian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. This action followed the 1926 British Imperial Conference that produced the Balfour Declaration, which stated the United Kingdom and the Dominions “are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs.”
19 June 1943 - History
Famous Birthdays by Month:
June 1, 1801 - Brigham Young, Mormon religious leader
June 1, 1926 - Andy Griffith, actor
June 1, 1926 - Marilyn Monroe, actress
June 1, 1934 - Pat Boone, singer
June 1, 1937 - Morgan Freeman, actor, movie "Driving Miss Daisy"
June 1, 1947 - Ron Wood, musician, member of the "Rolling Stones"
June 1, 1973 - Heidi Klum, German supermodel, actress, fashion designer
June 1, 1974 - Alanis Morisette, singer
June 2, 1731 - Martha Washington, the very first First Lady of the United States
June 2, 1904 - Johnny Weissmuller, Olympic champion swimmer, actor "Tarzan"
June 2, 1930 - Pete Conrad, astronaut
June 2, 1941 - Stacy Keach, actor
June 2, 1948 - Jerry Mathers, actor "Beaver" on "Leave it to Beaver"
June 2, 1955 - Dana Carvey, SNL, "Wayne's World"
June 2, 1980 - Abby Wambach, soccer player, coach
June 3, 1808 - Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America
June 3, 1865 - King George V, of England
June 3, 1925 - Tony Curtis, actor
June 3, 1926 - Allen Ginsberg, poet
June 3, 1942 - Curtis Mayfield, singer, songwriter
June 3, 1967 - Anderson Cooper, journalist and author
June 4, 1738 - King George III, king of England during the American Revolution
June 4, 1924 - Dennis Weaver, actor
June 4, 1944 - Michelle Phillips, singer, member of the "Mamas and the Papas"
June 4, 1952 - Parker Stevenson, actor
June 4, 1971 - Noah Wyle, actor "Carter" on TV series "ER"
June 4, 1975 - Angelina Jolie, actress
June 5, 1878 - Francisco "Pancho" Villa, Mexican revolutionary
June 5, 1883 - John Maynard Keynes, economist
June 5, 1934 - Bill Moyers, TV journalist
June 5, 1956 - Kenny G, musician
June 6, 1755 - Nathan Hale, Revolutinary War hero and patriot
June 6, 1799- Alexander Pushkin, poet
June 6, 1892 - Donald F. Duncan Sr, created the Duncan Yo-Yo
June 6, 1935 - The Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader
June 6, 1939 - Marian Wright Edelman, children's rights activist
June 6, 1956 - Bjorn Borg, tennis champion
June 7, 1848 - Paul Gauguin, painter
June 7, 1917 - Dean Martin, singer, actor, producer
June 7, 1922 - Rocky Graziano, boxing champion
June 7, 1940 - Tom Jones, singer
June 7, 1952 - Liam Neeson, actor
June 7, 1958 - "Prince", singer
June 8, 1867 - Frank Lloyd Wright, architect
June 8, 1916 - Francis Crick, biologist, biochemist, co-discovered of the structure of DNA
June 8, 1917 - Byron R. White, Supreme Court justice
June 8, 1925 - Barbara Bush, First Lady of the United States
June 8, 1929 - Jerry Stiller, comedian, actor
June 8, 1936 - James Darren, singer, actor
June 8, 1937 - Joan Rivers, comedian
June 8, 1940 - Nancy Sinatra, Singer
June 8, 1944 - Boz Scaggs, rock singer
June 8, 1957 - Scott Adams, cartoonist, created "Dilbert"
June 8, 1966 - Julianna Margulies, actress
June 9, 1781 - George Stephenson, invented the steam locomotive
June 9, 1893 - Cole Porter, composer, lyricist
June 9, 1908 - Robert Cummings, actor
June 9, 1940 - Dick Vitale, sportscaster
June 9, 1961 - Michael J. Fox, actor, "Back to the Future"
June 9, 1963 - Johnny Depp, actor, "Pirates of the Caribbean"
June 9, 1981 - Natalie Portman, "Queen Amidala" in "Star Wars"
June 10, 1901 - Frederick Loewe, composer
June 10, 1921 - Prince Philip, Britain Prince Consort, Duke of Ellington
June 10, 1922 - Judy Garland, singer, actress "The Wizard of Oz"
June 10, 1982 - Tara Lipinski, Olympic champion figure skater
June 11, 1864 - Richard Strauss, composer, musician, conductor
June 11, 1880 - Jeannette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress
June 11, 1910 - Jacques Cousteau, undersea explorer, writer, filmmaker
June 11, 1913 - Vince Lombardi, football coach
June 11, 1935 - Gene Wilder, actor, director
June 11, 1936 - Chad Everett, actor
June 11, 1956 - Joe Montana, NFL quarterback
June 12, 1915 - David Rockefeller, banker
June 12, 1924 - George H. W. Bush, 41st U.S. President (1989-1993)
June 12, 1928 - Vic Damone, singer
June 12, 1929 - Anne Frank, Holocaust victim, wrote diary of her experience
June 12, 1933 - Jim Nabors, actor, singer
June 12, 1943 - Marv Albert, sportscaster
June 13, 1893 - Dorothy L. Sayers, mystery writer
June 13, 1943 - Malcolm McDowell, actor
June 13, 1951 - Richard Thomas, actor
June 13, 1953 - Tim Allen, comedian, movie and television actor, TV series "Home Improvement"
June 13, 1986 - Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins, actresses
June 14, 1811 - Harriet Beecher Stowe, author, abolitionist
June 14, 1864 - Alois Alzheimer, psychiatrist, pathologist
June 14, 1909 - Burl Ives, singer, actor
June 14, 1919 - Gene Barry, actor
June 14, 1946 - Donald Trump, 45th U.S. President, real estate executive, TV personality "The Donald"
June 14, 1961 - Boy George, singer
June 14, 1969 - Steffi Graf, tennis champion
June 15, 1932 - Mario Cuomo, NY governor
June 15, 1937 - Waylon Jennings, country singer
June 15, 1954 - Jim Belushi, actor, brother of John Belushi
June 15, 1958 - Wade Boggs, MLB slugger
June 15, 1963 - Helen Hunt, actress (Los Angeles, CA)
June 15, 1964 - Courtney Cox, actress "Friends"
June 15, 1969 - Ice Cube, rapper
June 15, 1974 - Neil Patrick Harris, actor, singer, director
June 16, 1829 - Geronimo, Native American Apache leader
June 16, 1890 - Stan Laurel, comedian, "Laurel & Hardy" duo
June 16, 1917 - Katharine Graham, newspaper publisher (New York, NY)
June 16, 1943 - Joan Van Ark, actress , "Val" on TV series "Knots Landing"
June 16, 1951 - Roberto Duran, boxing champion
June 17, 1917 - Dean Martin, actor, singer
June 17, 1943 - Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House
June 17, 1946 - Barry Manilow, singer and songwriter
June 17, 1948 - Phylicia Rashad, actress
June 17, 1951 - Joe Piscopo, comedian , actor, SNL
June 17, 1965 - Dan Jansen, Olympic champion speed skater
June 17, 1980 - Venus Williams, tennis player
June 18, 1886 - George Mallory, mountain climber, explorer
June 18, 1908 - Bud Collyer, Game show host for "To Tell the Truth"
June 18, 1942 - Roger Ebert, film critic, "Siskel & Ebert"
June 18, 1942 - Paul McCartney, singer, songwriter, musician, "The Beatles"
June 18, 1952 - Carol Kane, actress
June 18, 1976 - BlLake Shelton, country singer, Tv personality on "The Voice".
June 19, 1623 - Blaise Pascal, philosopher, physicist
June 19, 1897 - Moe Howard, comedian, actor, "Moe" of the "Three Stooges"
June 19, 1902 - Guy Lombardo, bandleader
June 19, 1903 - Lou Gehrig, baseball player
June 19, 1947 - Salman Rushdie, author "The Satanic Verses"
June 19, 1954 - Kathleen Turner, actress
June 19, 1962 - Paula Abdul, dancer, choreographer, "American Idol" judge
June 19, 1964 - Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister
June 20, 1909 - Erol Flynn, Actor
June 20, 1924 - Chet Atkins, guitarist
June 20, 1924 - Audie Murphy, actor, WWII hero
June 20, 1931 - Olympia Dukakis, actress
June 20, 1933 - Danny Aiello, actor
June 20, 1934 - Martin Landau, actor
June 20, 1942 - Brian Wilson, singer, songwriter, member of the "Beach Boys"
June 20, 1945 - Anne Murray, singer
June 20, 1946 - Bob Vila, TV handyman show
June 20, 1950 - Lionel Richie, singer
June 20, 1952 - John Goodman, actor
June 20, 1953 - Cyndi Lauper, singer
June 20, 1967 - Nicole Kidman, actress
June 21, 1905 - Jean-Paul Sartre, philosopher, novelist, playwright
June 21, 1912 - Mary McCarthy, novelist
June 21, 1921 - Jane Russell, actress
June 21, 1925 - Maureen Stapleton, actress
June 21, 1947 - Meredith Baxter, actress
June 21, 1947 - Michael Gross, actor
June 22, 1903 - John Dillinger, bank robber
June 22, 1922 - Bill Blass, fashion designer
June 22, 1929 - Ralph Waite, actor
June 22, 1936 - Kris Kristofferson, singer, actor
June 22, 1941 - Ed Bradley, TV journalist
June 22, 1949 - Meryl Streep, Oscar winning actress
June 22, 1949 - Lindsay Wagner, actress
June 23, 1929 - June Carter Cash, country singer
June 23, 1948 - Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice
June 24, 1895 - Jack Dempsey, boxing champion
June 24, 1942 - Mick Fleetwood, musician, member of Fleetwood Mac
June 24, 1942 - Michele Lee, actress
June 24, 1945 - George Pataki, NY Governor
June 24, 1946 - Ellison Onizuka, astronaut, died in Challenger Space Shuttle explosion
June 24, 1967 - Sherry Stringfield, actress (Colorado Springs, CO)
June 25, 1874 - Rose O'Neill, created Kewpie Dolls
June 25, 1903- George Orwell, novelist
June 25, 1925 - June Lockhart, actress
June 25, 1930 - Clint Eastwood, actor
June 25, 1945 - Carly Simon, singer
June 25, 1948 - Jimmie Walker, actor, comedian
June 26, 1819 - Abner Doubleday, invented the game of baseball
June 26, 1892 - Pearl S. Buck, novelist
June 26, 1910 - Roy Plunkett, invented Teflon
June 26, 1963 - George Michael, singer
June 26, 1970 - Chris O'Donnell, actor
June 26, 1974 - Derek Jeter, American baseball player
June 27, 1880 - Helen Keller, blind author, lecturer
June 27, 1927 - Bob Keeshan, children's TV- "Captain Kangaroo"
June 27, 1930 - H. Ross Perot, entrepreneur, presidential candidate
June 27, 1993 - Ar-ana Grande, singer, actress
June 27, 1951 - Julia Duffy, actress
June 28, 1491 - Henry VIII, King of England
June 28, 1712 - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher
June 28, 1902 - Richard Rodgers, music composer, "Rogers and Hammerstein"
June 28, 1926 - Mel Brooks, actor, director
June 28, 1932 - Pat Morita, actor
June 28, 1946 - Bruce Davison, actor
June 28, 1960 - John Elway, NFL quarterback , Denver Broncos
June 28, 1966 - John Cusack, actor
June 28, 1971 - Elon Musk, born in South Africa. Entrepreneur, invnetor, Tesla Motors, Space-X.
June 29, 1858 - George W. Goethals, chief engineer fore the Panama Canal
June 29, 1941 - Stokely Carmichael, militant civil rights activist
June 29, 1944 - Gary Busey, actor
June 29, 1947 - Richard Lewis, comedian, actor
June 29, 1962 - Sharon Lawrence, actress
June 30, 1917 - Susan Hayward, actress
June 30, 1917 - Lena Horne, actress, singer
June 30, 1966 - Mike Tyson, boxing champion
June 30, 1985 - Michael Phelps, American Olympic multiple gold medalist in swimming
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Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1903 .
Diplomatic relations were established on December 27, 1903, when King of Ethiopia Menelik I I and U.S. representative Robert P. Skinner signed a treaty of commerce in which the two states agreed to receive representatives “in order to perpetuate and strengthen the friendly relations which exist between Ethiopia and the United States of America.”
Establishment of American Legation in Addis Ababa, 1909 .
The American Legation was established on July 6, 1909, when U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General Hoffman Philip presented his credentials in Addis Ababa .
American Legation Closed, 1937 .
The Italians invaded Ethiopia and occupied Addis Ababa on May 6, 1936. Although the United States never publicly recognized Italian authority in Ethiopia, it did withdraw its diplomatic representation and close the legation in Addis Ababa. U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General Cornelius Van H. Engert departed Addis Ababa on March 4, 1937, and the consulate was closed after March 31, 1937.
American Legation Reopened, 1943 .
The American Legation in Addis Ababa reopened on August 31, 1943, when U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General John K. Caldwell presented his credentials.
Ethiopian Legation Reopened, 1943 .
The Ethiopian Legation in the United States was opened on November 9, 1943, and Blatta Ephrem Tewelde Medhen served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.
American Legation Raised to Embassy, 1949 .
The American Legation in Addis Ababa was elevated to Embassy status on June 28, 1949, when Ambassador George R. Merrell presented his credentials
D-Day, A Year Too Late?
In April 1942, General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, went to London with a set of plans to bring about the defeat of Germany in northwestern Europe. Operation Bolero detailed a rapid buildup of U.S. forces in England, and Operation Sledgehammer foresaw an emergency 1942 landing in France should the Soviet Union be on the verge of collapse. But the star of the show was Operation Roundup, a large cross-Channel landing in April 1943, to be followed by a drive through northern France and into the Reich. In essence, Roundup was similar to what the Western Allies finally adopted—Operation Overlord—but they executed the latter more than a year later, starting on 6 June 1944.
Roundup did not take place for several reasons. It could not happen fast enough to suit the political requirements of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The President decreed that U.S. ground forces had to be in action against the Germans in 1942, preferably before the November midterm elections. For the British, who would provide the base for the operation and supply most of the naval support and many of the troops and aircraft, 1943 was too soon for a cross-Channel invasion, and Sledgehammer was a recipe for disaster.
Nonetheless, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff, wanting to ensure that the United States prioritized the fight against Germany rather than Japan, led Marshall to believe they accepted his troika of plans as one historian put it, Churchill’s “agreement to [Sledgehammer and Roundup] had come only because of a conviction that they were impossible to implement.”
General Hastings Ismay, Churchill’s military aide-de-camp, wrote: “Everyone seemed to agree with the American proposals in their entirety. No doubts were expressed no discordant note struck. [However,] perhaps it would have obviated future misunderstandings if the British had expressed their views more frankly.” Finally, as General Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, put it: “[Marshall’s] plans are fraught with the gravest dangers. . . . The prospects of success are small and dependent on a mass of unknowns, whilst the chances of disaster are great and dependent on a mass of well established military facts.” 1
The British Perspective
The cornerstones of British strategy, first defined in the dark days of September 1940, were blockade, bombing, peripheral operations, and uprisings in occupied countries. These were supposed to “crack” German morale, as had happened in 1918. After that, the British expected to exploit their enemy’s disintegration in a cross-Channel operation. They never considered facing the full strength of the German Army. Even after the United States and Soviet Union entered the war, British strategy remained based on these principles. The U.S. Army, on the other hand, envisioned building a force of 200 divisions to defeat Germany even without Soviet assistance.
Instead of confronting the Germans directly, Brooke was certain the best strategy was to drive Italy from the war and reopen the Mediterranean to routine shipping while the Russians did the bulk of the bleeding. Both Brooke and Churchill remembered the generation of British youth slaughtered at the Somme and in other Great War battles. As Churchill expressed it, “The fearful price we had had to pay in human life and blood for the great offensives of the First World War was graven on my mind.” The British rejection of Sledgehammer/Roundup came shortly after the stunning June 1942 surrender of the British fortress of Tobruk in North Africa. That had been preceded by the shocking British capitulation of Singapore to a smaller attacking force and the even more perplexing loss of Crete to lightly armed German paratroops.
These disasters, along with the failure of every British desert offensive undertaken against the Afrika Korps, caused Churchill and the chiefs (privately) to question the competence of their own generals and the morale of their army. If the British believed the Germans outclassed their own troops, what about the green Americans? Moreover, the naïve Yankees had no idea of the difficulties involved in a large amphibious attack. 2
|Major Landing Vessels Built and on Hand|
|Oct. 42–Dec. 42||21||51||88||160|
|Jan. 43–Jun. 43||34||27||1||62|
|July 43–Dec. 43||22||24||28||74|
|Jan. 44–May 44||41||54||83||178|
|1 Jan. 43 (Casablanca Conf.)||62||153||467||682|
|1 Aug. 43||308||330||471||1,109|
|7/1/1943 (Used in Husky)||159||68||193||420|
|June 44 (Used in Neptune)||236||248||837||1,321|
In early July, Churchill finally told U.S. leaders that the British would not participate in an early cross-Channel invasion. This shocking news forced Marshall and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Ernest King to return to London later that month in an effort to salvage Sledgehammer and Roundup. Instead, squeezed between unyielding British opposition and presidential orders to reach an agreement, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed to Operation Torch, the invasion of neutral Vichy French North Africa.
In an amazing feat of improvisation, with barely six weeks of planning, gathering forces, and training, Torch duly was conducted in November 1942 with half the landing force coming directly from the United States and the other half from Britain. Morocco and Algeria fell quickly enough, but German and Italian reinforcements delayed the conquest of Tunisia until May 1943—five months later than planned.
Showdown at Casablanca
The fact the Axis powers were able to prolong the campaign well into 1943 is one of the great failures of Torch and often is cited as a reason why an invasion of France was impossible in 1943. 3 However, despite Operation Torch’s failure to secure a quick victory, a modified Operation Roundup still was feasible in 1943. The decisions that set the course of Allied strategy for 1943 and beyond were made by the coalition’s leaders at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. These are what prevented a 1943 D-Day.
At Casablanca, General Marshall hoped to forge a consensus for a 1943 cross-Channel attack. The U.S. Joint Chiefs met with Roosevelt on 7 January 1943, a week before the conference opened, to discuss strategy. The President started by asking “if all were agreed that we should meet the British united in advocating a cross-channel operation [in 1943].” 4 Marshall noted that even among the Joint Chiefs the question of strategic focus “was still an open one” and that he personally favored an attack against Brest in August.
They discussed the pros and cons of continued operations in the Mediterranean and whether Sardinia or Sicily was the better objective. Admiral King preferred to attack Sicily should the Mediterranean focus continue. The CNO believed a cross-Channel invasion was inevitable, “but he had no preference as to the best time to do it.” 5 Admiral William Leahy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, voiced concerns about Spain and Syria. Lieutenant General Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, worried about securing air bases for a strategic bombing campaign. Roosevelt suggested building up a large force in England and postponing a final decision between a cross-Channel or a Mediterranean operation. In short, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no set and unified strategy for 1943. 6
While the Americans dithered, the British had conducted “acrimonious inter-Service disputes and often in [the] face of strong resistance from the Prime Minister himself” to clearly define their strategy. 7 At the opening of the 55th meeting of the Anglo-American Combined Chiefs of Staff on 14 January at Casablanca, Brooke made what has been described as a magnificent speech. He stated that in men and oil Germany was growing weaker and that an opportunity to take offensive action presented itself. He saw three means to strike back at the Germans:
- Via Russia by supporting the Soviet Union with supplies as far as possible
- Via strategic bombing
- Via a landing in Europe, but “once committed to a point of entry, the enemy would be able to concentrate his forces against us and it was therefore necessary to choose this point of entry with the greatest of care at the place where the enemy was least able to concentrate large forces.” 8 In other words, not northwestern France.
The U.S. chiefs knew the British “feared that German strength would make [a cross-Channel] operation impracticable.” As Marshall put it, “there was a very decided difference of opinion between the American and British point of view and there the question had resolved itself into one thing or the other with no alternatives in sight.” 9 He later explained that he ultimately accepted the Mediterranean focus because troops were already in the theater, it would maintain pressure on the Germans, and, most relevantly, the British refused to go along with the cross-Channel operation. 10 Indeed, he briefed Roosevelt that “the British are extremely fearful of any direct action against the continent until a decided crack in the German efficiency and morale has become apparent.” 11
The correctness of the British position is accepted canon of World War II historiography. Swiss historian Eddy Bauer wrote: “The British calculation that the Allies would not be strong enough to launch a victorious cross-channel invasion in 1943 was shown to be correct by the relatively narrow margin by which the Normandy invasion succeeded even a year later.” Stephen Roskill, author of the official British naval history of the war, decreed, “No knowledge which has since come to light has produced any sound reasons for believing that, even had the Mediterranean strategy not been adopted, we could have landed and maintained an army in France [before 1944].” 12 The assumption underlying such viewpoints is that the balance of power favored the Allies more in 1944 than in 1943. That is, that the Allies were growing stronger and the Germans weaker.
Was 1943 Too Early?
There were four basic preconditions of a successful cross-Channel attack:
- Naval superiority in the English Channel
- Air superiority over the landing beaches and well inland
- Enough troops to establish a beachhead and then match the enemy’s subsequent buildup
- Enough shipping and landing craft to carry the troops to the landing points and reinforce them as required.
While no one has questioned the Western Allies’ ability to establish sea and air superiority in 1943, most historians have concluded that landing craft and shipping were insufficient for a 1943 cross-Channel operation and there were not enough trained and experienced U.S. troops. Churchill wrote, “I do not believe that 27 Anglo-American divisions are sufficient for Overlord in view of the extraordinary fighting efficiency of the German Army and the much larger forces they could so readily bring to bear against our troops even if the landings were successfully accomplished.” 13
The Question of Shipping
According to naval historian Craig Symonds, “A case can be made that LSTs [tank landing ships] were the most important ships of the Second World War.” 14 Other important types that came into service in large numbers after Operation Torch included LCIs (infantry landing craft) and LCTs (tank landing craft). The Allies possessed sufficient landing craft for a four- or five-division assault in France in August 1943. After all, they conducted a seven-division assault in Sicily in July 1943. Indeed, after the decision made at Casablanca that there would be no cross-Channel operation in 1943, the United States reduced its production of amphibians. For example, 61 LSTs were launched in February 1943 but only 28 in March. The Americans also diverted major amphibious assets to the Pacific.
Production of large landing vessels again became a priority after a date finally was set for Overlord, and in April and May 1944, more LSTs (132) were produced than in the six months prior (130). If the Anglo-Americans had decided at Casablanca to conduct a cross-Channel invasion in August 1943, it is safe to assume that production would have been accelerated rather than reduced and that landing vessel inventories would have been adequate. Simply maintaining production at the level attained in the January–March 1943 quarter for another four months would have added an additional 85 LSTs and 146 LCIs to the inventory available for an August 1943 cross-Channel landing. It was a matter of priorities.
The decisions made at Casablanca also affected the availability of manpower. Discounting the 16 British and Canadian divisions reserved to exploit a crack in German morale, U.S. reinforcements to England would have been much greater had an operation across the English Channel remained in the books. Although Casablanca paid lip-service to continuing the buildup of U.S. forces in England, in fact, during the first quarter of 1943, fewer than 20,000 U.S. troops landed in England, not more than 90,000, as envisioned. Senior U.S. commanders did not want large numbers of troops doing nothing. 15
On 1 January 1943, the U.S. Army counted 67 divisions, of which 37 had a year or more of training. By 1 August 1943, there were 91 divisions, of which 61 were trained. On 1 January 1943, the United States had 11 divisions in the Pacific, 6 in North Africa, and 2 in England. Between then and 1 August 1943, the United States shipped only eight divisions overseas: five to the Pacific and three to the Mediterranean.
On 1 June 1944, by way of comparison, 22 U.S. divisions were in England. Operating under the priority of reinforcing that country for a cross-Channel operation, the United States could have had at the very least 18 divisions in England by 1 August 1943 and probably several more. This assumes that the three divisions shipped to Africa and three already there were sent to England as well as four of the five Pacific divisions and another four besides on the basis that it required about twice as much shipping to send a division to the Pacific as to England. If, as in Torch, the United States also loaded a three-division landing force in the United States, 21 U.S. divisions would have been available in the late summer of 1943 for a cross-Channel operation.
Counting divisions is deceptive because not all divisions are equal. In January 1943, General Brooke asserted that 44 German divisions were garrisoning France—“Sufficient strength to overwhelm us on the ground and perhaps hem us in with wire or concrete.” 16 In fact, 45 divisions were there, but the size and quality of these units varied wildly. There were 23 combat-ready mobile divisions, 9 static divisions, and 13 divisions either forming or being refitted. And even the mobile units, with the exception of the few armored divisions present in France, were inferior to Allied divisions in size, mobility, and firepower.
By 1 May 1943, 55 German divisions were in France, but nearly all of the mobile formations had been transferred east, leaving 51 static, reforming, or training units. In fact, the German Army in the West was weaker in the summer of 1943 than it was in mid-1944, while Germany’s overall war production in 1944 was 50 percent greater than in 1943 and 126 percent greater than in 1942. In other words, the Allies faced a stronger and better prepared enemy in 1944 than they would have in 1943 under any circumstances. 17
Two Different Views
War is a complicated business, and changing one variable will have unknown repercussions. For example, the United States cut landing-vessel production in 1943 to build more escorts, and these helped win the Battle of the Atlantic. However, the major military objections raised at Casablanca to a 1943 cross-Channel operation could have been resolved. Had a decision been made to conduct such an operation in August 1943, enough landing craft and trained men to do the job would have been available, and they would have faced lighter opposition. However, there would have been a cost.
In the Pacific, the U.S. offensive into the Gilbert Islands might have been delayed. In the Mediterranean, there would have been no invasion of Sicily, and Italy may have remained in the war. The consequences are unknowable, but General Marshall was right in his belief that the best way to defeat Nazi Germany was by striking at its heart by the most direct route as quickly as possible. It took 30 months for the Anglo-American forces in the Mediterranean to drive from Egypt to the base of the Alps, compared to the ten months required to advance from the beaches of Normandy to the heart of Germany. That leaves little reason to think Marshall was wrong.
The real reason D-Day was not in August 1943 was because at Casablanca the British refused to consider such an operation and the Americans did not insist. It came down to two different views of how to defeat Germany. One was brash, perhaps naïve, but based on a history of success and a culture of abundance the other was cautious, perhaps chauvinistic, and influenced by a generation lost in the type of battle their allies were proposing against the very same foe.
On 24 May 1943, shortly after the British finally agreed to participate in a cross-Channel operation in the spring of 1944, even if Germany had not cracked, Brooke complained in his diary, “It becomes essential for us to bleed ourselves dry on the Continent because Russia is doing the same.” 18 Historian Max Hastings has written, “if [Brooke’s] willingness to allow the Russians to bleed the German Army was cynical, it was a great service to his own country.” 19 The counterpoint to this observation is that ending the war a year earlier, even a month earlier, would have been a great service to humanity.
The Surprisingly Deep—and Often Troubling—History of ‘Social Distancing’
I n March, when the world was stocking up on supplies as stay-at-home orders went into place, doctoral student Lily Scherlis started to take stock of the new vocabulary of the pandemic. One phrase in particular caught her eye: “social distancing.”
So, as the world has been trying to figure out how to live life in a “socially distant” way, Scherlis has become an expert on the origins of the term. And, while it may seem to be a particular product of the COVID-19 moment, she found that in fact the term has a long history.
For Cabinet magazine, Scherlis traced the evolution of the term in a “social history of social distancing,” from the earliest reference she could find in English&mdashin the 1831 translation of Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne&rsquos memoirs of his friendship with Napoleon&mdashto the Social Distance Scale that sociologist Emory Bogardus created in the aftermath of the Red Summer of 1919. TIME talked to Scherlis, who is pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Chicago, about the highlights of her research.
What was it like to do this research even as you were living through this moment?
Getting to write this article the moment I wrote it &mdash early March, right around time we went into shelter-in-place in Chicago &mdash was really just a gift because it was [during] the first week I was sheltered in place, and it was a project to throw myself into that was a safe and healthy way to deal with the news. I felt I like I didn’t have to just refresh the New York Times homepage constantly, and feel fear for the world, but instead could feel like I was engaging with what was happening. I had a sense already that [social distancing] would show up in 19th century literature as a way to condescendingly condemn marriage between classes it was actually pretty stunning how many other uses there have been.
How would you describe the evolution of the term?
It started with a memoir by a friend of Napoleon, who talked about how he experienced space in his friendship with Napoleon as Napoleon began to conquer more places. Then it’s used a lot as a euphemism for class in 19th-century British newspapers and as a euphemism for race in 19th century U.S. newspapers. In the 1920s, the Social Distance Scale [which measures prejudice by asking participants to describe how comfortable they feel interacting with people of another race] becomes a social science tool, a reductive attempt to slice the world into ethnic groups, and it’s still in use. To take all of the complicated and ambivalent feelings an individual can have about members of another one of these categories and assign a number to those feelings and average that number out across the group, was the most shocking thing to me.
After that, the other notable moment is that it gets picked up during the AIDS crisis, when it’s used colloquially to describe misguided fears of contagion. It’s not until 2004 that the CDC picks it up to talk about airborne illness and SARS.
You said the Social Distance Scale was the most shocking thing you learned doing this research. Can you tell us a little more about social distancing in the study of race relations?
The Social Distance Scale is, I think, in many ways, the most influential and formidable use of this term. It did not pop up in a vacuum. It turns up in wake of the summer of 1919, especially the Chicago race riots. A rich Chicago heiress funds [social scientists] at my institution, the University of Chicago, basically in order to try to make sense of race.
I think the Social Distance Scale undergirds our way of subconsciously thinking through issues of identity and inequity. It makes it seem like people obviously fit very neatly into these groups that obviously hate each other and that that hatred is simple enough that it can be turned into a number and counted and averaged across a population. It’s just this huge reduction. I just think the models that we use to research this stuff trickles into the sort of tacit ways we conceptualize these things. Bogardus wanted to increase the understanding between groups so that we can reduce hatred but set up this framework of “there are these groups and their relationships can be assigned a number.” He wants to do good but without questioning the terms about people who aren’t white.
Did any tidbits from your research not make it into your written work on the topic?
There’s a lot of weird miscellany that I found. There’s a 2013 article on social distance between humans and robots, and there’s a lot of human-computer interaction stuff on this which I find really funny. People have used “social distancing” to talk about how people behave in men’s bathrooms around urinals.
Have you continued to research the topic? Have you learned more since you published your original work?
I had a hunch there would be stuff with redlining and the racialized history of housing in the second half of the 20th century. [Anthropologist] Edward T. Hall used the term “social distancing” a lot. One of his articles on what should be done about housing in Black and white communities in Chicago goes as far as to make prescriptions for how public housing for Black folks should be designed in terms of Black culture.
What do you hope people take away from your research?
I just think it’s really important to remember how much institutionalized government-sanctioned language is weighed down with racism. When you use the term and see the term used, it’s good to hold in our heads how much the term has been used to justify elites sequestering themselves from pretty much most marginalized or disenfranchised folks in the U.S. across 200 years.
We should raise our eyebrows at these terms. I think the really important work is to think about what the term that is in common use means, what its actual history is, and to educate people about that. A line my article tries to toe is how to talk about how it is that terms move through time and wind up floating in the atmosphere, and people without knowing grab for them. I think we can learn a lot about which words feel ready at hand for us.
The original version of this story misstated the university where Emory Bogardus worked when he developed the Social Distance Scale. He was at the University of Southern California, not the University of Chicago (where he got his PhD).
NOTICE: Temporary Family History Library Closure
Out of concern for the health and safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will temporarily close starting at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020 until further notice. This closure is to support preventive efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
Regional FamilySearch centers and libraries have been asked to consider the direction of their local and government leaders, and then make informed decisions about temporary closures. If you plan to visit a FamilySearch center soon, please call ahead to ensure it is open at the regular times. (Included at the bottom of this post is a list of centers that are currently closed.)
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Director of the Family History Library
U.S. Army Combat Engineers, 1941-45
During World War II, U.S. Army combat engineers were at the spearhead of fighting in all theaters, whether the battlefield was North Africa’s desert sands, Normandy’s fire-swept Omaha Beach, the Ardennes’ snowclad forest, or the Pacific’s jungle-covered islands. The 700 engineer battalions mobilized during the war repeatedly proved to be vital components to Allied victory on all fronts. Both on the attack and on the defense, engineers led the way.
The mission of World War II combat engineers (known as “sappers” or “pioneers” in other armies) was three-fold: mobility operations countermobility operations and, when necessary, to fight as infantrymen. As Field Manual 21-105: Engineer Soldier’s Handbook (June 2, 1943) explained to trainees: “You are going to make sure that our own troops move ahead against all opposition, and you are going to see to it that enemy obstacles do not interfere with our advance. You are an engineer.”
The mobility operations conducted by the engineers facilitated the forward movement of friendly forces and included actions such as breaching obstacles, destroying enemy strongpoints, and constructing roads and bridges. Countermobility operations blocked or impeded enemy advances and included actions such as laying minefields, constructing fortifications for defending troops, or blowing bridges to stop enemy attacks. Combat engineers were also trained to fight as infantrymen and often did so in emergency situations on the battlefield.
In addition to infantry small arms, World War II combat engineers employed a range of weapons and specialized equipment to accomplish their mobility and countermobility missions. These included demolition “satchel” charges, Bangalore torpedoes (explosive-filled pipes to clear barbed-wire obstacles), mine detectors, bridging materials (for foot, pontoon and steel-framed Bailey bridges), and an array of construction equipment, from axes to bulldozers.
U.S. Army combat engineers played vital roles in many notable World War II actions. For instance, during the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings at Omaha Beach, engineers cleared a path through German fortifications to help GIs escape the murderous enemy fire and move beyond the beach. During the Battle of the Bulge, they not only fought as infantrymen but also, on December 18, 1944, blew up a key Amblève River bridge literally in the face of SS Colonel Jochen Peiper, stopping the German spearhead in its tracks. On March 7, 1945, combat engineers helped get GIs across the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen and quickly erected eight tactical bridges to speed more units across the Rhine. They were able to keep the shaky Ludendorff bridge in operation until March 17, when unfortunately it collapsed, killing 23 Americans and injuring another 93 – mostly engineers.
ACG salutes World War II U.S. Army combat engineers, some of history’s Great Warriors!
Jerry D. Morelock,PhD, “Armchair General” Editor in Chief
Originally published in the July 2013 issue of Armchair General.