January 30: The Raid at Cabanatuan, the Beginning of the Tet Offensive, and Other Events of the Date
A number of important events have taken place on January 30 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them
1944 – Second World War: Italian Campaign: the Battle of Cisterna
The Battle of Cisterna took place during World War II, on January 30-February 2, 1944, near Cisterna, Italy, and was a part of the Battle of Anzio, which, in its turn, was a part of the Italian Campaign. Unlike many other battles of the campaign, it was a clear German victory which also had repercussions on the employment of U.S. Army Rangers that went beyond the immediate tactical and strategic results of the battle. So, what happened there?
During this battle, the 1st, 3rd, and 4th U.S. Army Ranger battalions, the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, and the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, which had been brigaded as the 6615th Ranger Force (Provisional) commanded by Colonel William O. Darby, were assigned to support the renewal of an attack by Major General Lucian Truscott's 3rd Infantry Division, which had previously failed to take Cisterna from January 25–27. The 3rd Division's attack was part of a large offensive by Major General John Lucas's U.S. VI Corps to break out of the Anzio beachhead before German reinforcements could arrive and concentrate for a counterattack.
Unfortunately for the Allies, the Germans under command of Eberhard von Mackensen managed to repulse the initial American offensive and stay in position. In fact, later intelligence revealed that the American efforts had helped "spike" the planned German counter-attack on the Allied forces at Anzio, so despite the fact that the Allies (primarily – the Americans) suffered 42 killed, 94 wounded and no less than 740 captured, their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The Allies continued liberating Italy.
1945 – Second World War: Pacific Theater: Philippines Campaign: Raid at Cabanatuan
The Raid at Cabanatuan, also known as the Great Raid, was a rescue of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians from a Japanese camp near Cabanatuan City, in the Philippines. On January 30, 1945, United States Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas liberated more than 500 from the POW camp.
In a nighttime raid, under the cover of darkness and a distraction by a P-61 Black Widow, the group surprised the Japanese forces in and around the camp. Hundreds of Japanese troops were killed in the 30-minute coordinated attack; the Americans suffered minimal casualties. The Rangers, Scouts, and guerrillas escorted the POWs back to American lines.
The rescue allowed the prisoners to tell of the death march and prison camp atrocities, which sparked a new rush of resolve for the war against Japan. The rescuers were awarded commendations by MacArthur, and were also recognized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A memorial now sits on the site of the former camp, and the events of the raid have been depicted in several films.
1968 – Vietnam War: the Beginning of the Tet Offensive
January 30 marks one of the most important dates in the history of the Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive, or officially called the General Offensive and Uprising of Tet Mau Than, was one of the largest military campaigns of the war, launched on January 30, 1968 by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam against the forces of the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States Armed Forces, and their allies. It was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The name of the offensive comes from the Tet holiday, the Vietnamese New Year, when the first major attacks took place. Americans simply weren’t expecting the Vietnamese forces to attack on this date, but they did.
The offensive was launched prematurely in the late night hours in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam, allowing South Vietnamese and US forces some time to prepare defensive measures.
When the main North Vietnamese operation began the next morning, the offensive was countrywide and well-coordinated; eventually more than 80,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops struck more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital.
The offensive was also the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war and resulted in South Vietnamese and U.S. tactical victory, but since Americans didn’t support the war in general, it was also a great success for North Vietnamese propaganda. After Tet, the anti-war movement in the U.S. became quite powerful, eventually leading to the withdrawal of the American forces from Vietnam.
These are the most notable events in the U.S. history that occurred on January 30, at least in our view.