Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 999 May 26, 1942

At 2.59 AM 780 miles Northeast of Iceland, U-703 attacks convoy PQ-16 hitting American SS Syros with 2 torpedoes, exploding ammunition in the 6390 tons of general war cargo. SS Syros breaks in 2 and sinks within 80 seconds (9 killed, 30 survivors picked up from the freezing sea by British minesweeper HMS Hazard but 2 die of exposure). Luftwaffe attacks on the convoy are unsuccessful.

Battle of Kharkov. Soviet troops continue attempting to breakout East towards the Soviet lines, but only advance 1 mile to the town of Lozovenka. Germans squeeze the surviving Red Army soldiers into an area of 15 square kilometers

Libya. While the British lay elaborate plans for their coming offensive, Rommel’s aims are simpler. He wants to get his tanks around the Allied defensive line to create havoc in their rearguard areas. Previous experience suggests this will precipitate an Allied flight back into Egypt, allowing Rommel to capture Tobruk. At 4 PM, after intensive bombing from German and Italian aircraft to break up the minefields, General Ludwig Crüwell attacks along the coast near Gazala with 4 Italian infantry divisions and some German motorized infantry. But this is a feint by Rommel; Crüwell has no tanks, only small aircraft engines mounted on trucks to stir up a massive dustcloud. While British General Ritchie congratulates himself for having place most of his infantry near the coast road to prevent a direct drive on Tobruk, all Rommel's tanks (German 15th and 21st Panzer and 90th light Divisions, plus Italian Ariete Division) are poised to attack around the Southern end of the Allied line.

At 4.16 AM 125 miles Northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, U-103 sinks American SS Alcoa Carrier carrying 6500 tons of general cargo (all 35 hands escape in 2 lifeboats; 33 picked up 4 days later by a Cuban gunboat and 2 by a US Navy aircraft). At 11 AM in the Gulf of Mexico, U-106 sinks US tanker SS Carrabulle carrying 42,307 barrels of liquid asphalt (22 killed, 18 survivors picked up 15 hours later by American steamer SS Thompson Lykes).

I-9’s floatplane again reconnoiters Kiska Island at the western end of the Aleutian Islands.

In the Gulf of Mexico from 8 PM until 4 AM next morning, U-106 stalk American SS Atenas and the 2 ships exchange gunfire (U-106’s deck gun is out of order, so the 37 mm anti-aircraft gun is used instead). 7 holes in SS Atenas’ hull are plugged and 2 small fires are extinguished, allowing her to proceed to Cristóbal, Panama.

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