Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 287 June 13, 1940

Final act of the Norwegian campaign. At dawn (2.43 AM), 15 Fleet Air Arm Skuas from HMS Ark Royal dive bomb German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at Trondheim. However, RAF bombing of nearby Vaernes airfield alerts the defenses. A 500 lb bomb hits Scharnhorst, but does not explode. 8 Skuas are shot down by anti-aircraft fire & Messerschmitt fighters (6 dead, 10 taken prisoner). 7 Skuas return to Ark Royal at 3.45 AM. Escort destroyers HMS Antelope & Electra collide in fog (both will be out of service until August).

A German seaplane picks up one of the Skua pilots. The same seaplane also picks up 2 survivors from HMS Ardent (sunk June 8). One later dies from exposure. Able seaman Roger Hooke is Ardent's only survivor. He will be repatriated in 1943 due to ill health.

First naval skirmish in the Mediterranean. British submarine HMS Odin attacks Italian cruisers Fiume and Gorizia. Odin is sunk by escort destroyers Strale and Baleno (all 56 hands lost).

Churchill flies to Tours, where the French government temporarily resides, for a meeting of the Supreme War Council (this will prove to be the last meeting). Defeat in France is generally accepted and Churchill encourages the French to withdraw to their colonies in North Africa to fight on. However, French PM Paul Reynaud asks to be released from the March 28 agreement and allowed to negotiate armistice terms with Germany. Churchill refuses, appraising this solely from the British point of view.

British armed merchant cruiser HMS Scotstoun (originally Anchor Line passenger ship Caledonia) is attacked all day by U-25 and finally sinks 80 miles West of Outer Hebrides, Scotland (7 lives lost). 345 survivors are picked up by British destroyer HMS Highlander and landed at the Clyde on June 14.

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