Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 256 May 13, 1940

Norway. Allies launch their first amphibious assault of WWII to capture Bjerkvik and Øyjord, for use as staging post for landings at Narvik across the Rombaksfjord. Cruisers HMS Aurora & Effingham and battleship HMS Resolution bombard Bjerkvik at midnight, broad daylight in the latitude of Narvik but dark enough at Trondheim to prevent German aircraft taking off. French Foreign Legion and light tanks come ashore at Bjerkvik in landing craft at 1 AM (36 casualties). Many Norwegian civilian die in the fighting. French motorcycle troops ride along the coast and take Øyjord unopposed.

Northern France. In the morning, Rommel sends motorcycle troops across River Meuse over a weir & lock gate at Dinant, while Guderian’s troops cross in rubber boats at Sedan in the afternoon following intensive bombing of French defensive positions. Despite French artillery bombardment, they both establish bridgeheads and by the evening they have pontoon bridges in place and tanks are rolling over.

Holland. German 9th Panzer Division reaches the outskirts of Rotterdam and 22nd Flieger Division holds onto bridges in the city. Dutch Queen Wilhelmina leaves at noon on HMS Hereward. Her government exiles to London at 5.20 PM on HMS Windsor.

Belgium. Battle of Hannut continues. To cover the Gembloux gap, French tanks line up abreast in a long thin line. Large groups of Panzers easily punch through, causing havoc in the French rear and Prioux retreats to the defensive line at Gembloux. Over 2 days French lost 105 tanks, Germans 160.

Winston Churchill first enters the House of Commons as Prime Minister, accompanied by his predecessor Chamberlain who receives a better reception by far. Churchill gives his “Blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech (text and MP3 at

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