Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 593 April 15, 1941

In Greece, Luftwaffe bombs RAF airstrip at Larisa at dawn, destroying 10 Blenheims on the ground. Luftwaffe has command of the air and RAF aircraft are withdrawn to Athens. Leibstandarte SS Regiment cuts the road to Greneva, blocking the retreat of the Greek Army of Epirus from Albania. This exposes the flank of the Allied line from Mount Olympus inland. At 10AM, British General Wilson orders a retreat 80 miles South to the Thermopylae line, yielding all of Northern Greece but protecting the capital Athens on the peninsula of Attica. ANZAC troops will hold the Mount Olympus line for a few days to cover the retreat of the mobile Allied forces but the Greek Army (which is still North of this line and moving on foot) will be abandoned. British Admiral Cunningham begins planning an evacuation from Greece.

Resistance in Yugoslavia is more or less over. Yugoslav 2nd Army, holding Sarajevo, capitulates as 2 Panzer Divisions enter the city simultaneously. Other Yugoslav units have withdrawn into mountainous areas in the West of the country. Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelić returns to Zagreb to set up the Independent State of Croatia in collaboration with Nazi Germany.

Tobruk. Despite yesterday’s setbacks, Rommel presses his attack on the Allied defensive perimeter. At 5.30 PM, 1000 Italian infantry move forward, cut the wire and capture one of the machinegun posts. The usual combination of Australian small arms fire from neighbouring posts and British artillery fire wreaks havoc with the Italians who withdraw at 6.15 (leaving 250 dead and 113 POWs).

Italian submarine Tazzoli sinks British SS Aurillac 500 miles West of Lisbon, Portugal (1 killed).

From 11 PM to 5 AM, 200 Luftwaffe bombers drop 203 tons of high explosive bombs, 80 parachute mines and 800 incendiary canisters on Belfast, Northern Ireland. 900 civilians are killed, 1,500 injured and 56,000 homes (half of the houses in Belfast) are damaged leaving 100,000 homeless. Vounteer fire crews from Ireland cross the border to assist and stay 3 days.

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