20 Mar 1945
  • Submarine I-369 was reassigned to Submarine Division 16 as her original unit, Submarine Squadron 7, became deactivated. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Blenny attacked a Japanese convoy and reported sinking three transports with torpedoes. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Kete sent a weather report south of Colnett Strait in the northern Ryukyu Islands, Japan, then was never heard again. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Hackleback fired an acoustic seeking torpedo and then fired her deck gun at a small Japanese warship south of Japan; all attacks failed to hit the target. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US Seventh Army captured Saarbrücken, Germany while the US Third Army reached Mainz, Germany. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • General Gotthard Heinrici replaced Heinrich Himmler as the commanding officer of Army Group Vistula. Meanwhile, Heinz Guderian failed to convince Himmler to ask Hitler to consider peace negotiations. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German Armeegruppe Weichsel's (Vistula) Oder River bridgehead near Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland) was evacuated. ww2dbase [TH]
  • RAF aircraft attacked a Gestapo building in Copenhagen, Denmark, killing 100 Germans and 6 prisoners. A school nearby was also hit, killing 112 Danish civilians, 86 of whom children. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Japanese troops launched an offensive aimed at American bases at Laohokow and Ankong in China. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov authorized the transfer of Hungarian Count István Bethlen, already arrested by the Soviets in Hungary, to be transferred to Moscow, Russia for interrogation. ww2dbase [CPC]
Arctic Ocean
  • In the afternoon, German submarine U-968 attacked convoy JW-65 near the mouth of the Kola Inlet and reported a destroyer and a Liberty sunk and another Liberty ship damaged. In fact, the sloop HMS Lapwing (U-62; Commander J. A. Binnie, Rtd, RN) of the 7th Escort Group and the Liberty ship Thomas Donaldson were sunk. The sixty-one survivors of the sloop were rescued by the destroyer HMS Savage (G 20). The Thomas Donaldson, carrying 7,679 tons of general cargo, including 6,000 tons of ammunition, foodstuffs and locomotives and tenders as deck cargo was the twentieth ship as convoy formed into one column to enter Kola Inlet and was hit at 1315 hours on the starboard side by one torpedo about 20 miles from the mouth of Kola Inlet. The torpedo struck the engine room, killed one officer and two crewmen on watch below and destroyed the engines. Due to her dangerous cargo the master ordered the crew of eight officers, 34 crewmen and 27 armed guards to abandon ship after 10 minutes. Most left in the two port lifeboats and a raft and were picked up by the corvette HMS Bamborough Castle (K 412) while others jumped overboard and were picked up by HMS Oxlip (K 123). One man died after being rescued. The master and eight crew members remained aboard and were later taken off by HMS Honeysuckle (K 27), which took the ship in tow toward Kola Inlet. At 1630 hours, a Soviet tug took over the tow but the Thomas Donaldson sank stern first at 1745 hours, one-half miles from Kilden Island. ww2dbase [Main Article | HM]
  • USS Gabilan departed Fremantle, Australia for her fifth war patrol. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Indian 19th Infantry Division captured Mandalay, Burma. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
Caroline Islands
  • USS New Mexico departed Ulithi, Caroline Islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Pacific Ocean
  • USS Baya claimed sinking a Japanese destroyer in the South China Sea, hitting her with 1 of 3 torpedoes fired. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • The first XP-80A prototype jet aircraft "Gray Ghost" crashed; test pilot LeVier was able to bail out to safety. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 20 Mar 1945
Men of US 535th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion checking their positions in Remagen, Germany, Mar 1945M3 Lee tank passing a burning building in a Burmese village south of Mandalay, 20 Mar 1945.Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith and Colonel Dudley S. Brown surveying wreckages at the Iwo Jima invasion beaches, circa Mar 1945

20 Mar 1945 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945