Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 293 June 19, 1940

The race to the Channel continues, as the Germans try to take the ports before the Allies can escape. In the morning, Rommel shells the forts defending the port of Cherbourg while attacking with infantry. At 5 PM, local officials and police persuade the French garrison defending the town to surrender. This is 7th Panzer’s last major action in the Battle of France. Since May 10, they have captured 100,000 Allied prisoners, 450 tanks, 300 artillery or anti-tank guns & 4,000 trucks and incurred losses of 700 killed, 1650 wounded & 300 missing. During this time, Rommel has been awarded Iron Cross 1st & 2nd class (for the second time, having won these medals in WWI) and, on May 27, Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

5th Panzer Division makes even better progress and takes the port of Brest another 150 miles to the West. However, the Allies have evacuated their personnel and demolished the port facilities.

Operation Ariel. Germans have not arrived at St. Nazaire as expected, so British send 7 troop transports and 6 destroyers to evacuate 2,764 Polish troops (in addition to the 54,411 British embarked over the last few days). 4,000 Poles are also rescued from La Pallice. Evacuations begin from the ports of the River Gironde and Bayonne & St Jean-de-Luz, close to the Spanish border. Over the next 5 days, over 6,000 Polish troops are evacuated from Gironde and 19,000 Polish soldiers are rescued from Bayonne and St Jean-de-Luz.

U-boats sink or damage 8 Allied or neutral merchant vessels (a total of 40,000 tons of shipping) between Southern Ireland and the Bay of Biscay. U-48 alone sinks 3 ships (15,500 tons).

Italian submarine Galileo Galilei is depth charged by British destroyer HMS Kandahar and anti-submarine trawler HMS Moonstone in the Gulf of Aden. Galileo Galilei surfaces and shells HMS Moonstone, which returns fire killing the captain and capturing the submarine. Galilei is towed to Aden by HMS Kandahar and will be renamed X 2 by the Royal Navy to be used as a training boat.

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