Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1944

Brits launch Operation Wallace and aid French Resistance

On this day in 1944, 60 British soldiers, commanded by Major Roy Farran, fight their way east from Rennes toward Orleans, through German-occupied forest, forcing the Germans to retreat and aiding the French Resistance in its struggle for liberation. Code-named Operation Wallace, this push east was just another nail in the coffin of German supremacy in France.

The Germans had already lost their position in Normandy, and had retreated from southern France. Most of the German troops in the west were trapped—and were either being killed or taken prisoner—in what was called “the Falaise Pocket,” a site around the eastern town of Falaise, which was encircled by the Allies. The Allies were also landing tens of thousands of men and vehicles in France, and the French Resistance was becoming more brazen every day. On the 19th, the French police force announced its loyalty to the Resistance cause by seizing the Prefecture de Police in Paris, raising the French national flag, and singing the Marseillaise, the French national anthem.

Major Roy Farran, a veteran of the fighting in Italy, employed his British Special Air Service force to boldly burst eastward from Rennes to the region just north of Orleans through the German lines of defense in order to attack the enemy from within its own strongholds. Along the way, French Resistance fighters joined the battle with him. Farran was taken aback by the strength of the French freedom fighters, and the anticipation of liberation in the air. Describing one Frenchwoman, Farran said, “Her smile ridiculed the bullets.”

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Trotsky assassinated in Mexico

Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded by an ice-ax-wielding assassin at his compound outside Mexico City. The killer–Ramón Mercader–was a Spanish communist and probable agent of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Trotsky died from his wounds the next day. Born in ...read more

Viking 1 launched to Mars

Viking 1, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Mars. On June 19, 1976, the spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars and devoted the next month to imaging the Martian surface with the purpose of finding an appropriate landing ...read more

U.S. Marines deployed to Lebanon

During the Lebanese Civil War, a multinational force including 800 U.S. Marines lands in Beirut to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon. It was the beginning of a problem-plagued mission that would stretch into 17 months and leave 262 U.S. servicemen dead. In 1975, a ...read more

Soviets Invade Czechoslovakia

On the night of August 20, 1968, approximately 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring”–a brief period of liberalization in the communist country. Czechoslovakians protested the invasion with public demonstrations and other ...read more

United States decides to support Diem

President Eisenhower approves a National Security Council paper titled “Review of U.S. Policy in the Far East.” This paper supported Secretary of State Dulles’ view that the United States should support Diem, while encouraging him to broaden his government and establish more ...read more

Military aid to Saigon slashed

In the wake of Nixon’s resignation, Congress reduces military aid to South Vietnam from $1 billion to $700 million. This was one of several actions that signaled the North Vietnamese that the United States was backing away from its commitment to South Vietnam. ...read more

Professional football is born

On this day in 1920, seven men, including legendary all-around athlete and football star Jim Thorpe, meet to organize a professional football league at the Jordan and Hupmobile Auto Showroom in Canton, Ohio. The meeting led to the creation of the American Professional Football ...read more

Benjamin Harrison is born

On this day in 1833, future President Benjamin Harrison is born in North Bend, Ohio. Politics had long been the Harrison family business. At the time of his birth, Harrison’s father was serving Ohio in the United States House of Representatives, while his grandfather, William ...read more

The Menendez brothers murder their parents

Lyle and Erik Menendez shoot their parents, Jose and Kitty, to death in the den of the family’s Beverly Hills, California, home. They then drove up to Mulholland Drive, where they dumped their shotguns before continuing to a local movie theater to buy tickets as an alibi. When ...read more

Soviet Union intervenes in Czechoslovakia

In the face of rising anti-Soviet protests in Czechoslovakia, Soviet troops (backed by troops from other Warsaw Pact nations) intervene to crush the protest and restore order. The brutal Soviet action shocked the West and dealt a devastating blow to U.S.-Soviet relations. The ...read more