May 14th: This Day in Military History

May 14th. Day 14 of month, Calendar date. White cubes with text on black background with reflection.Spring month, day of year concept.

May 14th: This Day in Military History

It’s unlikely May 14th will be a day that lives in infamy as far as military history, but it wasn’t uneventful either. Perhaps most notable is that May 14th is the day Israel became a state which kicked off the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Separately, the Warsaw Pact was also established between the Soviet Union and Eastern European Nations. Let’s take a deeper look and see what else happened on this day in military history.

Israel Becomes a State

Jerusalem old city panorama, Israel.
On May 14, 1948, Israel was declared a state through UN charter.

One of the most notable events that happened on May 14th, 1948, was the proclamation establishing the State of Israel. As the British army withdrew from the region earlier that day, Egypt attacked at night. With the British mandate controlling the region now expired, Israel was left to fend for itself and fight for its very survival the same day it was created.

Arab-Israeli War

Arab Israeli War
Arab nations attacked Israel immediately after it declared statehood.

What would become the first of many confrontations between Israel and its neighbors is the Arab-Israeli War. In Israel, this conflict is called the War of Independence. The conflict started with Egypt launching planes to attack Tel Aviv while other forces from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon attacked on the ground. The overall war would take around 10 months of fighting before Israel won the day.

Warsaw Treaty Organization

Warsaw Pact
The Conference in Warsaw during which the Warsaw Pact was signed.

Known as the Warsaw Pact or the Warsaw Treaty Organization, the Soviet Union established this military alliance on May 14, 1955. The pact took place between the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Albania. The pact was seen as an opportunity to counter the growth of NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

First Naval Engagement

Fairhaven Town Hall Massachusetts
The first naval engagement of the Revolutionary War took place off the Fairhaven, Massachusetts coast.

On May 14, 1775, the very first naval engagement of the Revolutionary War took place. Occurring off the coast of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the battle was by no means substantial. A small force of American soldiers captured two small British ships and their crews. While it was a quick victory, it also did not significantly impact the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

Germany Captures the Netherlands

Allied aircraft drop paratroopers into German held Netherlands, for Operation Market Garden. The plan to capture key bridges in Netherlands failed with 15,000 Allied casualties.
Operation Market Garden was an attempt to free the Netherlands from Germany.

After much fighting in the region, it was on May 14th, 1940, that Dutch forces surrendered to the invading German army. As a result, the German occupation of the Netherlands began after five days of intense fighting. Nearly 900 people had been killed and over 85,000 people were left homeless as a result of the fighting.

British Capture of Fort Mifflin

Building Landmark Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, PA
After British forces captured Fort Mifflin, they could land supplies in Philadelphia.

Occurring on May 14th, 1779, British forces captured Fort Mifflin in Pennsylvania. The capture of the fort was a strategic loss for the American army as the fort had prevented British warships from landing supplies in the Philadelphia area. Fort Mifflin has also played a role in other wars including the Civil War, World War 2, and remained an active military base until 1962.

Battle of Resaca

Battle of Resaca
The Battle of Resaca was the first Civil War battle in Georgia.

Taking place from May 13 to May 15, the Battle of Resaca was fought during the Civil War. The Union Force under the command of William Sherman was engaged by the Confederate Army led by Joseph E. Johnston. This was the first major battle that took place around Atlanta. It also marked the first time the Union and Confederate armies fought in Georgia.

End of North African Campaign

German Prison Yard
German prisoners were held after the Axis powers surrendered in North Africa.

With the Axis powers surrendering in Tunisia on May 13th, 1943, it would all but end the German and Italian campaigns in North Africa. As a result, May 14th was the first day in World War 2 that there was no Axis resistance in the region.

Had the German army been better supplied in North Africa, it could have prolonged the war for years. However, what’s most important is that the collapse of North Africa allowed the Allies to start a campaign to capture Itay.

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