Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 633 May 25, 1941

Overnight 400 miles Southeast of Greenland, British cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk shadow damaged German battleship Bismarck using radar, while zigzagging to avoid potential submarine attack. At 3.06 AM, Admiral Lütjens (celebrating his 52nd birthday) orders Bismarck to zig West while HMS Suffolk and Norfolk are zagging East, breaking the British radar contact. Bismarck circles behind the British cruisers and steams Southeast at 20 knots toward safety at St. Nazaire, France. British Admiral Tovey is desperate to locate Bismarck and, incredibly, Lütjens sends radio signals in the morning allowing Tovey to plot his position. British warships and aircraft search all afternoon and evening but cannot find Bismarck.

Crete. More German troops are airlifted into Maleme airport. After dive-bombing by Stukas at 4 PM, German paratroops and mountain troops attack the North coast town of Galatas (on the approach to Suda Bay) from both South and West. Allied forces quickly withdraw but a group under Major John Russell holds their position and is surrounded. New Zealand Colonel Howard Kippenberger immediately organizes a scratch force with 2 British light tanks (3rd Hussars) to counterattack. Led by a Maori war chant (haka), New Zealand troops charge into Galatas with bayonets fixed, causing a German retreat and freeing Russell Force. Germans mortar fire pushes them back out of the town with the loss of 1 tank. On the other end of the island, Luftwaffe bombs Heraklion heavily.

Off Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa, U-103 sinks Egyptian SS Radames at 4.31 PM (1 killed) and Dutch SS Wangi Wangi at 10.13 PM (1 dead, 92 survivors in 2 boats reach the Liberian coast next day).

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