Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 597 April 19, 1941

Greece. Germans capture Larisa, allowing them to move South along the Aegean (East) coast but their progress is hampered by demolition of the roads by the retreating Allies. Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Regiment captures Ioannina 50 miles from the Ionian (West) coast, threatening the left flank of the new Allied line at Thermopylae. This also cuts off the retreat from Albania of Greek Army of Epirus, creating a gap in the center of Greece through which German armoured columns pour South. General Wavell flies to Athens for a meeting with King George II of Greece where it is decided the Allies will evacuate with the Greek’s blessing to avoid further destruction of their country.

East Africa. 5th Indian Division (moving South from Amara, Eritrea) and 1st South African brigade (moving North from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) converge on Italian stronghold at Amba Alagi, where Duke of Aosta (Viceroy of Italian East Africa) and his 7,000 troops reinforce the 3,700m mountain and lay in supplies for a siege. 1st South African Brigade are held at the city of Dessie, a regional Italian administrive center 130 miles South of Amba Alagi.

Libya. Rommel visits the frontier with Egypt and observes the weakness of the British defenses on the escarpment from Sollum Southeast to Sofafi. He decides to attack here while he waits for reinforcements to deal with Tobruk. Overnight, 450 British commandoes land at Bardia, Libya, from Landing Ship HMS Glengyle, escorted by cruiser HMS Coventry and 3 destroyers. Finding Bardia unoccupied by German or Italian troops, they destroy a supply dump and a coastal artillery battery. Most are successfully re-embarked but 1 man is killed by friendly fire and 67 are captured after getting lost and going to the wrong beach. The attack causes Rommel to divert troops from attack to supply line defense.

Overnight, London is heavily bombed by 712 German bombers (2300 civilians killed).

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