Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 639 May 31, 1941

Evacuation of Crete. British destroyers HMS Napier & Nizam are both bombed and damaged by near misses on the return journey to Alexandria, Egypt. British cruiser HMS Phoebe, minelayer HMS Abdiel and destroyers HMS Jackal, Kimberley & Hotspur depart Alexandria at 6 AM and evacuate 3710 troop overnight from Sphakia. 54 senior officers including General Freyberg leave for Alexandria in 2 Sunderland flying boats.

Iraq. The mayor of Baghdad surrenders to British Ambassador, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, at the Washash Bridge in Baghdad. An armistice is agreed. The terms of the 1930 Anglo-Iraqi treaty are restored and British right to station troops in the country is confirmed. As the British see this as political repression of Rashid Ali rather than a war against the Iraqi people, the Iraqi Army is allowed to return to barracks and captured guns and vehicles are returned. POWs on both sides are released, except Italians and Germans who remain POWs of the British.

U-boats have a busy morning off the coast of West Africa. At 0.25 AM, U-69 sinks British MV Sangara in harbour at Accra, Gold Coast (captain is the only casualty). At 0.24 AM off Liberia, U-38 sinks Norwegian SS Rinda (13 killed, 18 survivors escape in a lifeboat and picked up by anti-submarine trawler HMS Pict). At 3.34 AM near Cape Verde Islands, U-106 sinks British MV Clan MacDougall (2 killed, 75 crew members and 10 gunners reach San Antonio, Cape Verde Islands). At 7.39 AM off Sierra Leone, U-107 sinks British SS Sire (3 killed, 46 survivors picked up by corvette HMS Marguerite).

U-147 sinks British SS Gravelines 100 miles Northwest of Ireland (11 killed, 25 picked up by British sloop HMS Deptford). At 5.15 AM in the Denmark Strait, Northwest of Iceland, U-204 sinks Icelandic fishing boat Holmsteinn with the deck gun (all 4 hands lost). Holmsteinn is one of the smallest ships sunk in WWII, displacing only 16 tons.

Overnight, Luftwaffe aircraft heading for Bristol and Liverpool over-fly their targets and bomb Dublin, Eire, by mistake (28 civilians killed, 87 injured).

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