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This Day in Military History


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26 February 1955

 

The Iowa class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) is decommissioned for the first time. In the summer of 1984, she begins reactivation, and thirty-six years after being decommissioned that first time (virtually to the day), she was performing gunfire support off the coast of Kuwait.

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27 February 1942

 

At the Battle of the Java Sea, the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) strike force, sailing northeast from Surabaya to intercept a convoy of the Japanese Eastern Invasion Force approaching from the Makassar Strait, is defeated by the task force protecting the convoy. 10 Allied ships and more than 2,000 Allied sailors were lost, ending significant Allied naval operations in Southeast Asia, and with Japanese ground forces invading Java the following day.

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3 March 1918

 

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is concluded between the new Bolshevik government of Russia and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey), ending Russia's participation in World War I.

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4 March 1970

 

Sometime after 0713 hours, the French Daphne class diesel-electric submarine Eurydice (S644) suffers an explosion while dived in calm seas off Cape Camarat, about 35 miles east of Toulon, in the Mediterranean. The sub and all 57 of her crew are lost. The cause of the incident is never determined.

 

Her sister Minerve (S647) had been lost two years earlier, on 27 January 1968, not far away from the same area, around the same time of day and under similarly mysterious circumstances.

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5 March 1946

 

At Westminster College, Winston Churchill makes a speech in which the term "Iron Curtain" is used for the first time:

 

 

 

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an "Iron Curtain" has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.
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7 March 1936

 

German military forces return to the Rhineland, violating the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties, and marking the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in the region.

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10 March 1945

 

Sometimes described as the single most destructive bombing raid in history, US Army Air Forces fire bomb Tokyo during Operation Meetinghouse. 279 B-29s drop around 1,700 tons of bombs, destroying about 16 square miles of the city. Some 100,000 people are killed, more immediate deaths than either of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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12 March 1947

 

The "Truman Doctrine" is born, and with it, some would say, the Cold War, when American President Harry Truman delivers a speech stating that the USA would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to forestall Communist domination (and Soviet influence) in those nations.

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14 March 1945

 

An Avro Lancaster of the RAF's 617 Squadron drops the first 22,000 lb Grand Slam bomb from an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet.

 

A large section of the target, a viaduct (bridge) in the Bielefeld suburb of Schildesche, Germany, is collapsed through the "earthquake" effect.

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18 March 1915

 

During the Battle of Gallipoli, a large group of British and French naval forces attack fortified Ottoman positions at the narrowest point of the Dardanelles.

 

The French battleship Bouvet, and the British battleships HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean are all sunk by freshly laid mines.

 

The losses have the effect of pushing efforts to capture the region by land.

 

[The naval campaign is covered in excellent fashion by Robert Massie's book Castles of Steel.]

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