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RDR 1st Raider Battalion ***New Thread***

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On this day in 1943, U.S. and Great Britain chiefs of staff, meeting in Washington, D.C., approve and plot out Operation Pointblank, a joint bombing offensive to be mounted from British airbases.

Operation Pointblank's aim was grandiose and comprehensive: "The progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people." It was also intended to set up "final combined operations on the continent." In other words, it was intended to set the stage for one fatal blow that would bring Germany to its knees.

The immediate targets of Operation Pointblank were to be submarine construction yards and bases, aircraft factories, ball bearing factories, rubber and tire factories, oil production and storage plants, and military transport-vehicle factories and stores. Ironically, the very day planning for Pointblank began in Washington, the Germans shot down 74 British four-engine bombers as the Brits struck a munitions factory near Pilsen. Joseph Goebbels, writing in his diary, recorded that the biggest setback about the British raid on the factory was that the drafting room was destroyed.

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On this day in 1943, the crew of the Memphis Belle, one of a group of American bombers based in Britain, becomes the first B-17 crew to complete 25 missions over Europe.

The Memphis Belle performed its 25th and last mission, in a bombing raid against Lorient, a German submarine base. But before returning back home to the United States, film footage was shot of Belle's crew receiving combat medals. This was but one part of a longer documentary on a day in the life of an American bomber, which included dramatic footage of a bomber being shot out of the sky, with most of its crew parachuting out, one by one. Another film sequence showed a bomber returning to base with its tail fin missing. What looked like damage inflicted by the enemy was, in fact, the result of a collision with another American bomber.

The Memphis Belle documentary would not be released for another 11 months, as more footage was compiled to demonstrate the risks these pilots ran as they bombed "the enemy again and again and again-until he has had enough." The film's producer, Lieutenant Colonel William Wyler, was known for such non-military fare as The Letter, Wuthering Heights, and Jezebel.

A fictional film about the B-17, called Memphis Belle, was released in 1990, starring John Lithgow, Matthew Modine, and Eric Stoltz.

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On this day in 1944, the Polish Corps, part of a multinational Allied Eighth Army offensive in southern Italy, finally pushes into Monte Cassino as the battle to break German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's defensive Gustav Line nears its end.

The Allied push northward to Rome began in January with the landing of 50,000 seaborne troops at Anzio, 33 miles south of the Italian capital. Despite having met very little resistance, the Allies chose to consolidate their position rather than immediately battle north to Rome. Consequently, German forces under the command of Field Marshal Kesselring were able to create a defensive line that cut across the center of the peninsula. General Wladyslaw Anders, leader of the Polish troops who would raise their flag over the ruins of the famous Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino, commenting on the cost of the battle, said, "Corpses of German and Polish soldiers, sometimes entangled in a deathly embrace, lay everywhere, and the air was full of the stench of rotting bodies."

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On this day in 1940, the German army in northern France reaches the English Channel.

In reaching Abbeville, German armored columns, led by General Heinz Guderian (a tank expert), severed all communication between the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the north and the main French army in the south. He also cut off the Force from its supplies in the west. The Germans now faced the sea, England in sight. Winston Churchill was prepared for such a pass, having already made plans for the withdrawal of the BEF (the BEF was a home-based army force that went to northern France at the start of both World Wars in order to support the French armies) and having called on the British Admiralty to prepare "a large number of vessels" to cross over to France if necessary. With German tanks at the Channel, Churchill prepared for a possible invasion of England itself, approving a plan to put into place gun posts and barbed wire roadblocks to protect government offices in Whitehall as well as the prime minister's dwelling, 10 Downing Street.

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