Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 439 November 12, 1940

Operation Judgement. The 3 undamaged Italian battleships Vittorio Veneto, Andrea Doria and Giulio Cesare and most of the cruisers depart Taranto for the safety of Naples further North. The British bombers plan to return to Taranto and follow up yesterday’s attack but Admiral Cunningham cancels the raid at 6 PM due to bad weather. Consequently, damage to the Italian fleet is not as decisive as hoped. Battleships Littorio and Caio Duilio will be repaired and returned to service by Spring 1941 and only Conte di Cavour is unsalvageable. For a full analysis

Worried by the speedy German victory over France plus German moves into Romania and Finland, Stalin guesses (correctly) that Germany plans to invade USSR. At 11.05 AM, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov arrives in Berlin to probe German intentions and to assert Soviet interests in the Balkans and the Dardanelles. He meets with German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop and, after lunch, with Hitler. They both assure Molotov that the war against Britain is going smoothly and that Germany has no interests in Soviet territory. As a distraction, they encourage USSR to invade Iran to gain access to the Persian Gulf and, thus, the Indian Ocean.

The last Vichy forces in Gabon surrender at Port Gentil on the coast 70 miles South of Libreville. Former Vichy Governor of Gabon, Georges Pierre Masson, helps negotiate the surrender and then commits suicide fearing the consequences of his own indecision. On August 29, Masson had publicly declared loyalty to DeGaulle’s Free French, only to switch back immediately to Vichy under pressure from the Naval commander at Libreville.

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