Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 299 June 25, 1940

At half past midnight, the French armistices with Germany and Italy come into effect and fighting is over in France. France has 92,000 dead, 250,000 wounded and 1.5 million taken prisoner. British losses are 68,111 killed, wounded or captured. German army and Luftwaffe losses are 29,640 dead, 133,573 wounded and missing. Since June 21, Italy has 631 dead, 2,631 wounded, 2,151 hospitalised with frostbite and 616 missing attacking Southern France, while French defenders suffered only 37 killed, 42 wounded and 150 missing.

To compound French misery, Hitler orders the destruction of the 1918 Armistice site at Compi├Ęgne. The railway carriage, a massive dedication tablet and the 1918 Alsace-Lorraine Monument (depicting a German eagle impaled by a sword) are removed to Germany. However, Hitler leaves the statue of French WWI victor, Mar├ęchal Foch, watching over this wasteland.

Churchill makes a speech to the House of Commons on the Franco-German peace and, specifically, on the disposition of the French battleships and other warships. He notes “the solemn declaration of the German Government that they have no intention of using them for their own purposes during the war. What is the value of that? Ask half a dozen countries what is the value of such a solemn assurance”. He is clearly worried about the fate of the French fleet, despite the assurances of Admiral Darlan.

Between 3.45 and 7.30 PM, U-51 attacks convoy OA-172 about 370 miles west of Lands End sinking British steamer Windsorwood carrying 7100 tons of coal (all 40 crew rescued by steamer Ainderby & landed at Barry, Wales) and British tanker Saranac (4 lives lost, 39 survivors picked up by HMS Hurricane & trawler Caliph).

Operation Ariel. Canadian destroyers HCMS Fraser and Restigouche are sent with British cruiser HMS Calcutta to rescue 4,000 allied soldiers trapped on the Bordeaux coast. In rough seas and poor visibility, HCMS Fraser collides with the much larger HMS Calcutta and is cut into 3 pieces (47 die aboard Fraser; 19 lost on Calcutta). Many Fraser survivors transfer to HMCS Margaree and some are lost in another collision on October 22 with freighter MV Port Fairy.

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