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ON THIS DAY

ON THIS DAY

05 June 1944: Celebrations as Rome is liberated. The people of Rome have crowded onto the streets to welcome the victorious Allied troops. The first American soldiers, members of the 5th Army, reached the centre of Rome late last night after encountering dogged resistance from German forces on the outskirts of the city. Early this morning it was announced the German troops had been ordered to withdraw. Rome is the first of the three Axis powers’ capitals to be taken and its recapture will be seen as a significant victory for the Allies and the American commanding officer who led the final offensive, Lieutenant General Mark Clark. In a broadcast in the United States this evening, President Franklin D Roosevelt welcomed the fall of Rome with the words, “One up, two to go.” But he gave a warning that Germany had not yet suffered enough losses to cause her to collapse. In Rome itself, the people have been celebrating. Shops have closed and huge crowds have taken to the streets, cheering, waving and hurling bunches of flowers at the passing army vehicles. First reports from the city say it has been left largely undamaged by the occupying German forces. The city’s water supply is still intact and there is even electricity – recent blackouts are reported to have been caused by engineers reluctant to restore power for the occupiers. Most Romans remained in the city during the occupation and many refugees also fled here. Food supplies are now extremely short with bread rationed to 100g per person per day. A report from Hitler’s headquarters said he had ordered the withdrawal of the German troops to the north-west of Rome in order to prevent its destruction. The statement said: “The struggle in Italy will be continued with unshakable determination with the aim of breaking the enemy attacks and to forge final victory for Germany and her allies.” The Pope appeared on the balcony of St Peter’s this evening and addressed the thousands of Italians who had gathered in the square. He said: “In recent days we trembled for the fate of the city. Today we rejoiced because, thanks to the joint goodwill of both sides, Rome has been saved from the horrors of war.” The American military authorities in London have broadcast a tribute to the British General Sir Harold Alexander, who has been in overall command of Allied forces in Italy. It described the campaign as “daring, unconventional and brilliant” and said his methods had compelled the enemy to evacuate Rome without destructive fighting within the city itself. (Source: BBC)

05 June 1967: Israel launches attack on Egypt. Israeli forces have launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and destroyed nearly 400 Egypt-based military aircraft. Fighting broke out on the Israel-Egypt border but then quickly spread to involve other neighbouring Arab states with ground and air troops becoming embroiled in battle. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said in a statement that the Egyptian Air Force had taken a great beating and Jordanian and Syrian air forces had been largely destroyed. The attack follows a build-up of Arab military forces along the Israeli border. The Arab states had been preparing to go to war against Israel with Egypt, Jordan and Syria being aided by Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Algeria. On 27 May the President of Egypt, Abdel Nasser, declared: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.” Egypt signed a pact with Jordan at the end of May declaring an attack on one was an attack on both. This was seen by Israel as a clear sign of preparation for all-out war. Israel took decisive action today claiming the element of surprise was the only way it could stand any chance of defending itself against the increasing threat from neighbouring states. Israeli troops claim to have captured the key town of El Arish in north Sinai and are now advancing towards Abu Gela. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs are said to be fleeing the crossfire in Jo

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