Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 799 November 7, 1941

In Moscow, Stalin pulls off a public relations masterpiece. Despite the risk of German air attack, the annual October revolution parade begins at 8 AM. Troops, artillery and tanks (mainly new T-34 and KV tanks) rumble through Red Square past Lenin’s Mausoleum (empty) and St. Basil’s Cathedral. They then turn West towards the front lines, going straight into action against the Germans.

In one of the great maritime tragedies of the war, Soviet hospital ship Armenia sinks with over 7000 civilians and wounded soldiers on board. Armenia leaves Yalta at 8 AM, against orders forbidding daylight sailing from the Crimea. At 11.29 AM, a single Heinkel He111 from KG26 torpedoes Armenia (despite Red Cross insignia painted on the deck and sides) which rolls over and sinks in 4 minutes. There are 8 survivors.

At 10.34 PM in the middle of the North Atlantic, U-74 sinks British MV Nottingham on her maiden voyage, after MV Nottingham tries to ram the U-boat. All 56 crew and 6 gunners escape in lifeboats but are never seen again.

Overnight, 160 RAF bombers raid Berlin but 20 or more are shot down with little damage done to the German capital. As a result of the ineffectiveness of raids like this, Sir Richard Peirse will be replaced as head of RAF Bomber Command by Sir Arthur Harris in January 1942.

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