Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 1034 June 30, 1942

Case Blue. Soviet Bryansk Front collapses in front of Voronezh in the face of the onslaught from German 2nd Army & 4th Panzer Army. Slightly to the South, German 6th Army moves forward, helping 4th Panzer Army complete the entrapment and annihilation of Soviet 40th Army.

At Sevastopol, a heavy artillery barrage and Luftwaffe bombardment of Soviet positions allows Germans to reinforce the bridgehead on the South side of Severnaya Bay. Soviet resistance begins to wither as Stalin orders top commanders, party officials and administrators to be brought out by submarine.

In Egypt, Rommel's forces arrive in front of El Alamein to find the British 8th Army dug in across the 35 mile wide coastal strip. At 8.24 AM 62 miles Northeast of Alexandria, U-372 sinks British submarine depot ship HMS Medway evacuating to Haifa, Palestine (30 killed, 1105 survivors rescued by cruiser HMS Dido and 7 destroyers). The sinking temporarily brings British submarine activities in the Mediterranean to a standstill, although 47 of the 90 torpedoes and other equipment on board will be recovered.

In the North Atlantic. 550 miles West of Ireland, U-458 sinks Norwegian MV Mosfruit (all 36 hands escape in 1 lifeboat and rescued on July 8 by British MV Empire Hope 40 miles off the coast of Ireland). 650 miles Northeast of the island of St. Martin, Italian submarine sinks Dutch MV Tysa (all hands escape and reach St. Martin). 150 miles West of Bermuda, a Martin PBM Mariner flyingboat (piloted by Richard Schreder, Navy Squadron VP-74) sinks U-158 with depth charges (all 54 hands lost).

70 miles Southeast of Shanghai, US submarine USS Plunger sinks Japanese steamer No 5 Unkai Maru.

In the Mozambique Channel, Japanese submarine I-10 sinks American SS Express (13 killed) and I-20 sinks British tanker Steaua Romana.

Day 1033 June 29, 1942

At 1.25 AM 50 miles Southwest of Barbados, U-126 shells Canadian sailing ship Mona Marie after all 8 crew abandon ship.

Overnight, Luftwaffe and German artillery lay down a barrage on Soviet defenses South of Sevastopol as a distraction, while, at 1 AM, German 16th and 65th Infantry Regiment in 130 rubber assault boats cross 600 yard-wide Severnaya Bay from the North. They land behind the main Soviet defenses on the Inkerman Heights. Soviets are caught completely unaware and do not respond until 2 PM, after German troops secure and rapidly expand a bridgehead on high ground.

Case Blue. Soviet 40th Army falls back in disarray and is in danger of being surrounded by German 4th Panzer Army attacking from Kursk towards Voronezh. Fearing that the German offensive is the start of a drive on Moscow, Stalin rushes in forces from nearby Southwest front and the Stavka reserve. 7 Soviet tank corps (1st, 2nd, 4th, 11th, 16th, 17th, 24th) comprising 1000 tanks converge on Voronezh for a counterattack.

Egypt. Pushing East, German 90th Light Division reaches Sidi Abd el Rahman, only 20 miles from El Alamein, where British 8th Army has begun preparing a defensive line on the narrow coastal strip between the Mediterranean and the Qattara Depression which is impassable by tanks due to fine powdery sand, salt lakes, high cliffs and escarpments. Mussolini flies to Libya, piloting his own aircraft carrying his white horse, in preparation for a triumphant parade into the Egyptian capital, Cairo. British fleet at Alexandria evacuates submarine depot ship HMS Medway, escorted by cruiser HMS Dido and 7 destroyers, towards Haifa, Palestine.

At 2.45 PM 100 miles North of Tobruk, Libya, British submarine HMS Thrasher sinks Italian freighter Diana, carrying supplies to Rommel. Italian motor torpedo boats attack unsuccessfully with 17 depth charges.

U-67, U-153, U-158 and U-505 each sink 1 Allied freighter or tanker on the US East coast, in the Gulf of Mexico or in the approaches to the Caribbean, including American SS Thomas McKean heading to Iran with 9000 tons of Lend-Lease supplies for USSR (including tanks and 11 aircraft). U-754 sinks British passenger/cargo ship MV Waiwera 400 miles Northwest of the Azores (6 crew and 2 military personnel lost, 72 crew, 7 gunners and 18 military personnel picked up by freighter Oregon Express and landed at New York).

In Washington, Admiral King proposes an invasion of the Eastern Solomon Islands, including Guadalcanal, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Overnight, 253 RAF bombers (108 Wellingtons, 64 Lancasters, 47 Stirlings, 34 Halifaxes) return to Bremen, Germany, damaging Focke-Wulf aircraft factory and A.G. Weser U-boat construction yard. 4 Stirlings, 4 Wellingtons, 3 Halifaxes are lost.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 1032 June 28, 1942

Eastern Front. Germans launch their much-delayed Spring offensive (Case Blue). While Stalin believes they will renew the attack on Moscow, Hitler has other plans. He intends to use his Southern 5 Armies (2nd, 6th & 17th, 4th Panzer & 1st Panzer) to swing South and capture the Caucasus oilfields, immobilising Soviet industry and the Red Army. The offensive starts with German 2nd Army and 4th Panzer Army attacking East towards Voronezh and North towards Orel, further convincing Stalin that the attack is aimed at Moscow. The Panzers are accompanied by Luftwaffe spotters radioing in airstrikes on any Soviet tanks that come out to meet them.

Sevastopol. Overnight, Italian MAS fast torpedo boats fake a landing at Cape Fiolent, South of Sevastopol, to distract from German preparations to mount an assault from the North across Severnaya Bay. Soviet defenses are now concentrated on the Inkerman Heights, anticipating a German attack up the Chernaya River Valley, but unprepared for an attack across Severnaya Bay. In the Black Sea, Soviet Flotilla Leader (large destroyer) Tashkent is badly damaged by German bombers but manages to reach the Caucasus port of Novorossisk.

Royal Navy Home Fleet (British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, British battleship HMS Duke of York, US battleship USS Washington and escorting cruisers and destroyers) leaves Scapa Flow, Scotland, to provide distant cover to convoy PQ-17 from Iceland to Arkhangelsk, USSR.

Egypt. British 8th Army continues its fighting withdrawal to El Alamein, pursued by Panzerarmee Afrika. On the coast, German 90th Light Division reaches Fuka, 45 miles East of Mersa Matruh.

In the Mediterranean 14 miles Southwest of Haifa, U-97 attacks a 3 ship convoy from Port Said to Cyprus, sinking British SS Zealand (14 dead, 19 survivors) and Greek SS Memas (8 killed, 17 survivors).

U-154, U-203, U-332, U-505 and U-701 each sink 1 American freighter or tanker on the US East coast or in the approaches to the Caribbean.

In the Philippine Sea, between Guam and the Philippines, US submarine USS Stingray attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks gunboat Saikyo Maru.

Allies step up bombing of Japanese bases in the South Pacific. US 5th Air Force B-17 bombers from Australia attack Rabaul, New Britain, and Lae, New Guinea. PBY floatplanes of VP-14 attack Tulagi Island, Soloman Islands.

In the Mozambique Channel, Japanese submarine I-10 sinks British merchant ship Queen Victoria.

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Weston-super-Mare in Southwest England on faulty intelligence that Churchill is staying in the town on his return from USA (102 civilians killed, 400 injured).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 1031 June 27, 1942

Egypt. South of Mersa Matruh, Rommel’s Panzerarmee Afrika harasses the retreating British 8th Army. Private Adam Wakenshaw (Durham Light Infantry) wins the Victoria Cross for continuing to fire his 2-pounder anti-tank gun, despite being mortally wounded by German shellfire. At 7 PM, German 90th Light Division reaches the Mediterranean coast at Ras Hawala, 25 miles East of Mersa Matruh. 21st Panzer Division briefly surrounds New Zealand 2nd Infantry Division at Minqar Qaim, before the New Zealanders break out overnight with a bayonet charge that catches the German asleep.

Allied Convoy PQ 17 (35 merchant ships, 3 rescue ships and 2 oilers) departs Hvalfjord, Iceland, for Arkhangelsk, USSR (escorted by destroyer HMS Middleton, minesweepers HMS Britomart, HMS Halcyon & HMS Salamander, anti-aircraft ships HMS Pozarica & HMS Palomares, CAM ship Empire Tide, 3 anti-submarine trawlers and submarine HMS P615).

Operation Pastorius. The last 2 German saboteurs (Neubauer and Haupt, landed in Florida by U-584 on June 18) are arrested in Chicago by FBI. All 8 saboteurs, including the informant George Dasch, will be put on trial.

Off the East coast of USA, 300 miles Southeast of Philadelphia, U-404 sinks Norwegian MV Moldanger (14 killed, 30 survivors some of whom float 1000 miles East towards the Azores until rescued on 14 August).
In the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles North of Vera Cruz, Mexico, U-129 sinks Mexican tankers SS Tuxpam (8 dead, 31 survivors) and SS Las Choapas (4 dead, 28 survivors).

20 miles West of Barbados, U-126 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Leiv Eiriksson which catches fire and spreads burning oil on the sea (4 burned to death, 40 survivors).

In the Atlantic. 250 miles East of Trinidad, U-128 sinks American SS Polybius (10 dead, 34 survivors). 650 miles East of the Virgin Islands, U-153 sinks American SS Potlatch carrying 7500 tons of tanks, trucks and supplies from New York to British 8th Army in Egypt (8 killed, 47 survivors in 1 lifeboat reach an uninhabited island in the Bahamas after 26 days).

60 miles south of Tokyo Bay, US submarine USS Nautilus sinks Japanese auxiliary minesweeper Musashi Maru.

Overnight, 144 RAF bombers (55 Wellingtons, 39 Halifaxes, 26 Stirlings, 24 Lancasters) return to Bremen, Germany. The Atlas Werke and the Korff refinery are damaged again (7 civilians killed, 80 injured). 4 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters & 1 Stirling are lost.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 1030 June 26, 1942

At 9.13 AM in the middle of the Atlantic 500 miles West of Bermuda, U-107 damages Dutch cargo/passenger ship MV Jagersfontein with a torpedo. MV Jagersfontein makes a run for Bermuda, forcing the U-boat to submerge with the 105mm gun, but sinks at 12.15 PM. All 108 crew, 14 gunners and 98 passengers (86 US Army officers and 12 civilians, among them women and children) abandon ship in 4 lifeboats and are rescued next day by Swiss steamer St. Cergue.

U-203 sinks British MV Putney Hill with a torpedo and 53 rounds from the deck gun at 5.44 AM 450 miles Northeast of Puerto Rico (3 killed, 35 survivors picked up after 10 days by British corvette HMS Saxifrage) and neutral Brazilian SS Pedrinhas with a torpedo and 22 rounds from the deck gun at 11.17 PM 150 miles closer to Puerto Rico (all 48 hands survive).

At Sevastopol, German troops reach the North shore of Severnaya Bay, having silenced the last of the Soviet forts including anti-aircraft batteries. With control of the skies, Luftwaffe blasts out Soviet 386th Rifle Division dug in on Sapun Ridge to the East of the city. In the Black Sea 30 miles Southeast of Sevastopol, German Ju88 dive bombers sink Soviet destroyer Bezuprechny (320 killed) and submarine S-32 (all 45 hands lost). Soviet submarines D-6 and A-1 are scuttled at Sevastopol to prevent capture by the Germans.

Egypt. British 8th Army begins to pull back to El Alamein, leaving a delaying force at Mersa Matruh. Rommel throws the full strength of Panzerarmee Afrika (German 15th and 21st Panzer and 90th Light Divisions, plus 3 Italian Divisions) South of Mersa Matruh after them.

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombs Norwich in Southeast England.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 1029 June 25, 1942

Overnight in the Atlantic 720 miles Northeast of St. Kitts, Windward Islands, U-153 sinks British MV Anglo-Canadian (1 killed). U-153 uses a spotlight to help lifeboats collect survivors in the water and gives them drinking water and cigarettes. 49 survivors reach St. Kitts.

At 1.16 AM 75 miles off Cape Lookout, North Carolina, U-404 attacks a convoy of 10 ships, sinking Panamanian SS Nordal (all 32 hands survive) and badly damaging American SS Manuela. SS Manuela floods but remains afloat (2 killed, 40 survivors on 1 lifeboat and 3 rafts rescued by US Coast Guard ships CG-408 and CG-483). 1 wounded crewman accidentally left on SS Manuela is rescued by US Coast Guards who come aboard at 9 AM to prepare a tow. SS Manuela founders and sinks next day while in tow by CG-252.

Egypt. Allied and Axis troops clash West of Mersa Matruh. Having lost confidence in General Ritchie's ability to command 8th Army, General Auchinleck (C-in-C Middle East Command) takes personal command of the defense of Egypt. He inspects the defenses at Mersa Matruh and decides to abandon Ritchie's plan to hold Rommel there. Auchinleck’s plan is to withdraw instead to the railhead at El Alamein to take advantage of the terrain and a shortened supply line.

Siege of Leningrad Day 291. Soviet 2nd Shock Army (starving in marshland on the Volkhov River, surrounded by Germans on and off since May 30) ceases organized resistance. As German artillery annihilates his men, General Vlasov orders them to break up into small parties and begin an uncoordinated breakout East. Of 180,000 Soviet troops in the “Volkhov Pocket”, only 120,000 will make it out over the next 3 weeks.

3 US floatplanes land at Constantine Harbor, Amchitka Island (Aleutian Islands) to rescue the remaining 27 crew from US submarine S-27, which ran aground on June 19.

60 miles south of Tokyo Bay, US submarine USS Nautilus sinks Japanese destroyer Yamakaze with 2 torpedoes (all 226 hands lost).

Overnight, 1,067 RAF Bomber Command and Coastal Command bombers (including 24 Bostons and 4 Mosquitos, previously sent only on daylight raids) attack Bremen, targeting the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory, shipyards and docks. Despite cloud cover, pathfinder planes equipped with Gee radio navigation drop incendiary bombs and the resulting fires guide waves of bombers dropping high explosives (572 houses destroyed, 6,108 damaged, 85 civilians killed, 497 injured, 2,378 made homeless). The Focke-Wulf factory is hit multiple times, with 7 buildings destroyed or seriously damaged. 53 RAF bombers are lost.

Day 1028 June 24, 1942

At 9.08 AM, 5 German Ju88 bombers attack Allied shipping at anchor in the Kola Inlet near Murmansk, USSR. 1 or 2 bombs hit British minesweeper HMS Gossamer which is blown in two and rolls over at 9.21 (23 killed, 12 wounded).

Without pausing to regroup after the conquest of Tobruk, Rommel launches an attack into Egypt. British 7th Armoured Division withdraws from Sollum, allowing Rommel to advance 50 miles almost to Sidi Barrani. General Auchinleck puts X Corps (just arrived from Syria) into the line at Mersa Matruh, replacing XIII Corps which falls back to El Alamein (Auchinleck’s favoured position for a last stand to prevent Rommel reaching the Egyptian heartland of Cairo and Alexandria).

At 9.04 AM 700 miles Southeast of Bermuda, U-156 sinks British SS Willimantic with shellfire after missing with the last torpedo at 8.10 AM (6 dead, 32 survivors). At 9.37 AM 30 miles off Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-404 sinks Yugoslavian SS Ljubica Matkovic, which catches fire on the combustible cargo of 4100 tons of sugar, 850 tons of fuel oil and 25 tons of wood, but all 30 hands escape.

At 8.05 PM in the mouth of Delaware Bay, US rescue tug John R. Williams hits a mine laid on June 11 by U-373 and sinks instantly (chief engineer, 2nd assistant and 2 deckhands survive as they are blown overboard but 14 other men drown).

US PBY Catalina floatplane spots US submarine USS S-27 which ran onto rocks off Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Islands on June 19. The Catalina lands at Constantine Harbor and rescues 15 of S-27’s crew.

Allies still suspect another Japanese attempt to capture Port Moresby in Papua, so they take protective actions. Australian 39th Battalion and Papua Infantry Battalion are sent to hold the Kokoda Track, the overland route from the Japanese-held North of the island. Australian forces depart from Port Moresby in Dutch ships Karsik and Bontekoe, escorted by Australian sloop HMAS Warrego and corvette HMAS Ballarat, to begin the construction of airfields at Milne Bay on the Eastern tip of Papua. These airfields will protect the sea route to Port Moresby through the Coral Sea and also provide a forward base for bombing of Japanese bases at Rabaul.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 1027 June 23, 1942

Libya. Hitler allows Rommel to pursue British 8th Army’s withdrawal, entranced by the prospect of conquering Egypt and disrupting British oil supplies from the Middle East. German probing attacks run into British 7th Armoured Division at Sollum, in Egyptian territory. Hitler writes to Mussolini “the goddess of fortune in battle passes by her captains but once; he who does not seize her now may never overtake her”. This prose convinces Mussolini to cancel his pet project, the planned Italian invasion of Malta to support Rommel's advance. USAAF B-24D bombers of Halverson Provisional detachment (HALPRO) attack Benghazi. HALPRO is in Egypt, en route to China for bombing raids on Tokyo.

In the Gulf of Sirte, off the coast of Libya, British submarine HMS Thrasher sinks Rommel resupply ship, Italian merchant Sant Antonio. Italian torpedo boat Perseo mounts an ineffective counter attack.

Operation Pastorius. 2 German saboteurs (Kerling and Thiel, landed in Florida by U-584 on June 18) are arrested in New York City by FBI on information provided by traitor George Dasch.

In the Gulf of Mexico, 40 miles south of South Pass, Louisiana, U-67 torpedoes US tanker SS Rawleigh Warner which bursts into flames and sinks in 10 minutes (all 33 hands lost). 300 miles further South, U-158 sinks American SS Major General Henry Gibbins (all 47 crew and 21 US Army gunners survive).

Caribbean. 100 miles West of Aruba, U-68 sinks Panamanian tanker MV Arriaga (1 dead, 24 survivors). 200 miles East of Nicaragua, U-172 sinks tiny Columbian sailing boat Resolute with 2cm gunfire and hand grenades (6 dead, 4 survivors).

In the middle of the North Atlantic 540 miles West of the Azores, U-84 sinks Norwegian tanker SS Torvanger (4 dead and 33 survivors). 100 miles East of Grenada, U-128 sinks Norwegian tanker MV (0 dead, 38 survivors).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 1026 June 22, 1942

In the Baltic Sea 5 miles West of the Swedish island of Gotland, Soviet submarine ShCh-317 sinks neutral Swedish SS Ada Gorthon, which is carrying iron ore to Germany and goes down within 1 minute (14 killed, 8 survivors).

Eastern Front. At Sevastopol, the struggle for the North shore of Severnaya Bay continues. Meanwhile, Soviet defenses East and South of Sevastopol also begin to crumble under the weight of German attacks. Further North near Kharkov, German 1st Panzer Army and part of 6th Army launch Operation Fridericus II. Having routed the Soviet offensive from the Izium salient in May, Germans hope to push Soviet 38th and 9th Armies further back from Kharkov and the Donets River to provide a better starting point for their coming Summer offensive (Operation Blau).

Tobruk. Rommel receives a telegram from Hitler, sent yesterday, promoting him to Field Marshall (Rommel notes privately that an additional Division would have been better). He replies, tantalizing Hitler with the chance to push the British out of Egypt and open the route to the Middle East oilfields in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Rommel has captured 5000 tons of food, 2000 tons of petrol, 2000 working vehicles and much ammunition at Tobruk, plus the harbour in good condition and a water distillation plant in working order, and claims he can now advance to the Suez Canal. As the British 8th Army withdraws 140 miles into Egypt, to prepare a new defensive line at Mersa Matruh, Rommel's troops reach Bardia, Libya, just 10 miles from the Egyptian border.

At 12.34 PM 120 miles Southeast of New York, U-202 sinks neutral Argentinian SS Rio Tercero carrying cargo to New York from Buenos Aires (5 dead, 37 survivors).

At 8.35 PM 175 miles South of Puerto Rico, U-159 stops US tanker SS E.J. Sadler (carrying 149.003 barrels of kerosene from Aruba) with shellfire. All 36 crew abandon ship in 4 lifeboats. The tanker is set on fire by numerous hits but does not sink, so a boarding party from U-159 sinks her with scuttling charges 4 hours later.

Overnight, RAF sends 227 aircraft (144 Wellingtons, 38 Stirlings, 26 Halifaxes, 11 Lancasters, 8 Hampdens) to bomb Emden, Germany (50 houses destroyed, damage in the harbour, 6 civilians killed and 40 injured). Decoy fires draw many bombers away from the target. 4 Wellingtons, 1 Lancaster, 1 Stirling are lost.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 1025 June 21, 1942

At 3 AM, Canadian minesweeper HMCS Georgian (waiting off Newfoundland to escort a convoy bound for Sydney, Australia) spots an unfamiliar submarine and rams it, unaware that British HMS P-514 (WWI-era US Navy submarine R-19, transferred to Royal Navy on March 9 1942) is in the area. HMS P-514 sinks with all 29 crew.

At 4 AM in the Atlantic 120 miles East of Barbados, U-128 sinks American SS West Ira. All 49 hands escape. 48 are rescued or make land in a week but the radio operator dies alone on a raft and his body washes ashore 11 days later.

Tobruk. Rommel holds the port but Allied troops enjoy numerical superiority and occupy more territory inside the perimeter. At dawn, Allied commander South African General Klopper orders both a breakout and a bloody fight to the death but he inexplicably surrenders at 8 AM. 19,000 British, 13,400 South African and 2500 Indian troops go into captivity (Klopper is booed when he tries to address his troops in the POW cage and cannot finish his speech). Klopper will later be exonerated by a court of inquiry for his actions. At 6.45 AM, South African minesweeping whaler HMSAS Parktown, evacuating troops from Tobruk, is attacked by 4 Italian MAS fast torpedoboats. Many crew and soldiers are killed but some are rescued by a tug and a British motor torpedo boat, which then sinks HMSAS Parktown with depth charges.

Mediterranean. 9 Bristol Beauforts (RAF 217 Squadron) and 6 Bristol Beaufighters (RAF 235 Squadron) from Malta attack an Italian convoy from Naples, Italy, to Tripoli, Libya. They hit German freighter Reichenfels, which is loaded with ammunition and blows up (3 Beauforts shot down, 7 killed, 1 wounded, 5 aircrew taken POW). Off Cape Bon, Tunisia, British Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers (830 Squadron from Malta) attack Italian destroyer Strale which runs aground and is abandoned.

US submarine USS S44 sinks Japanese gunboat Keijo Maru off Gavutu Island, North of Gaudalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Just before midnight, Japanese submarine I-25 surfaces and fires 17 14cm shells at the US Army Fort Stevens on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River (no hits scored and no damage done).
Overnight, 50 Luftwaffe bombers attack Southampton while 56 RAF Bomber Command aircraft lay mines in the Bay of Biscay.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 1024 June 20, 1942

Libya. Rommel unleashes a surprise attack on Tobruk beginning at 5.30 AM with artillery and a succession of bombing raids involving every German and Italian bomber in Libya plus some from Crete. 11th Indian Infantry Brigade cracks under the barrage, creating a gap on the Southeast corner of Tobruk’s perimeter which 100 German and Italian tanks pour through at 7 AM. By noon, Rommel is in view of the port. South African General Klopper does not rush reinforcements into the breach, so British and South African troops remain in their trenches and gun pits in other sectors or along the coast. German infantry fight their way into the town against shore-based British naval personnel and are in control of the port by 7 PM. British start destroying stocks of food, fuel and ammunition while an exodus of small boats leaves Tobruk harbour under heavy German artillery fire.

Sevastopol. At 9 AM, German 24th Infantry Division attacks Battery Lenin and Fort North. Battery Lenin, defended by only 1 anti-aircraft gun, gives up immediately. Fort North (300m wide, containing 32 concrete bunkers and 7 armored cupolas, with an anti-tank ditch and minefields) holds out all day, using anti-tank fire to destroy 3 German Borgward B IV remote-controlled explosive carrier demolition vehicles.

At 11.25 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 90 miles South of New Orleans, U-67 damages Norwegian tanker MV Nortind with a torpedo (1 crew member lost). MV Nortind reaches New Orleans 2 days later and will be repaired at Mobile, Alabama, and return to service in September.

Operation Pastorius. 3 German saboteurs (who landed on Long Island on June 13) are arrested in New York City. The FBI is acting on information from the fourth saboteur, George Dasch, who turned himself in yesterday in Washington.

In the evening, Japanese submarine I-26 surfaces 2 miles off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In the first attack on Canada since the war of 1812, I-26 shells the Estevan Point lighthouse and radio-direction-finding (RDF) installation, causing all lighthouses along the coast to shut down.

Overnight, RAF sends 185 bombers to Emden, Germany, but again most aircraft miss the target. 3 Wel1ingtons, 2 Stirlings, 1 Halifax & 1 Lancaster are lost.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 1023 June 19, 1942

Overnight 10 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-701 and US anti-submarine trawler USS YP-389 engage in a gun duel. USS YP-389’s 3-inch gun fails due to a faulty firing pin and she is sunk by armour piercing, high explosive and incendiary shells from U-701 (4 dead and 21 survivors). U-701 sustains only slight damage from USS YP-389’s Springfield machine guns.

At 00.43 AM, US submarine USS S-27 runs aground on rocks off Amchitka Island, Aleutians, while on her way to reconnoiter Japanese positions on the neighboring island of Kiska. By 4 PM, all 42 crew reach the beach using a rubber boat and ropes, after equipment is destroyed and classified material burned.

At 11.02 AM 20 miles West of Puerto Rico, U-107 shells unarmed US schooner Cheerio. A US patrol aircraft attacks U-107, forcing her to submerge and break off the attack but Cheerio sinks anyway (all 9 crew rescued clinging to wreckage by US Coast Guard ship USS CG-459).

At Sevastopol, Germans widen the breach in the Soviet lines North of Severnaya Bay and attempt to reduce the remaining Forts. Soviet 138th Naval Infantry Brigade makes an unsuccessful counterattack on German 22nd Division. Both sides are exhausted but the Red Army is wearing out faster. In the Black Sea South of Yalta, Italian fast torpedoboat MAS-571 sinks Soviet submarine SC-214. (In January 1942, Germany requested Italian assistance to help patrol the Black Sea because of “the superiority of the light surface and underwater torpedo crafts of the Regia Marina”. Italy sent 4 MAS boats, 6 CD class pocket submarines, 5 torpedo-motor boats and 5 explosive motorboats overland).

Off the West coast of Australia, German armed merchant cruiser Thor stops Norwegian tanker MV Herborg carrying 11,000 tons of oil from Abadan, Iran, to Fremantle, Australia. After Thor takes the crew on board, MV Herborg is renamed Hohenfriedberg and sent to Japan with a prize crew, arriving on July 7.

At 5.30 PM 20 miles North of Colombia, U-159 sinks Yugoslavian SS Ante Matkovic with 100 rounds from the deck gun (6 dead and 23 survivors).

Libya. All day Rommel's forces (German 90th Light, 21st Panzer & 15th Panzer and Italian Ariete Divisions) pursue the British 8th Army withdrawal into Egypt, apparently bypassing Tobruk. But at dusk, they reverse course and head back to surround Tobruk in preparation for a surprise dawn attack.

Overnight, RAF sends 194 bombers to Emden, Germany (112 Wel1ingtons, 37 Halifaxes, 25 Stirlings, 11 Hampdens, 9 Lancasters) but 29 aircraft attack Osnabrück, 80 miles away. 6 Wel1ingtons, 2 Stirlings & 1 Halifax are lost.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 1022 June 18, 1942

Overnight, British destroyer HMS Albrighton and steam gun boats SGB 7 and SGB 8 cross the English Channel and attack a German convoy in the Baie de la Seine (2 supply ships escorted by 6 motor torpedo boats and 1 armed trawler). SGB 7 sinks 1 German supply ship with a torpedo but is then herself sunk (4 killed, 7 crew taken as German POWs).

At 2.45 AM 12 miles off the coast of Colombia, U-159 sinks Dutch SS Flora with shellfire. All 37 crew escape in a motorboat and a lifeboat and reach Colombia next day, but 1 man dies of wounds.

At 5 AM 80 miles off the coast of Panama, U-172 uses 40 rounds from the deck gun to sink British tanker MV Motorex, carrying 20,000 barrels of diesel oil from Texas via the Panama Canal (1 dead, 20 survivors).

In the North Atlantic 500 miles West of Newfoundland, U-124 fires 6 torpedoes at convoy ONS-102 at 6.22 AM, damaging American SS Seattle Spirit (4 killed). 51 survivors abandon ship and are picked up by convoy escort Canadian corvette HMCS Agassiz, which also sinks the wreck of SS Seattle Spirit with shellfire.

Operation Pastorius. U-584 lands another 4 German saboteurs (including 1 US citizen) at Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida. The saboteurs board trains to Chicago and Cincinnati.

At Sevastopol, Germans have control of most of the ground North of Severnaya Bay but there are still several powerful Soviet Forts. At 11 AM, German 132nd Infantry Division attacks Coastal Battery No.12 (Kartashevsky's Battery) on the Black Sea coast, using flamethrowers to clear out trenches and bunkers by 7 PM. 2 miles inland German 24th Infantry Division overruns Soviet defenses at Bartenyevka. Soviet Navy is still trying to bring in reinforcements and evacuate wounded, but Leningrad-class “destroyer leader” Kharkov is badly damaged by German bombers.

Libya. Rommel moves North from the desert to cut off Tobruk. German troops and tanks reach the Mediterranean coast, cutting the supply road from the next port Bardia (70 miles West near the Egyptian border) and capturing RAF Gambut, a small airfield 40 miles West of Tobruk, making resupply by air much more difficult.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 1021 June 17, 1942

225 miles West of Land’s End, Cornwall, England, 12 German Ju88 bombers attack British destroyer HMS Wild Swan and a group of Spanish trawlers, sinking 3 of the trawlers. HMS Wild Swan shoots down 6 aircraft but is damaged by several near misses and sinks after ramming another trawler (31 killed, destroyer HMS Vansittart picks up 133 crew, including 5 seriously injured, and 11 Spanish fishermen).

The Soviet defensive line North of Sevastopol begins to collapse. Germans overrun Forts Maxim Gorky, Molotov, Schishkova, Volga and Siberia, although some Soviet troops will hold out in underground tunnels and continue fighting for many days.

Libya. Rommel continues pursuing the British 8th Army’s withdrawal towards Egypt.

In the Gulf of Mexico. 280 miles South of Galveston, Texas, U-158 sinks Panamanian SS San Blas at 4.50 AM (30 killed, 14 survivors on 4 rafts picked up on June 29 by a US Navy Catalina flying boat 195 miles North just of the Texan coast) and Norwegian tanker SS Moira at 1 PM (1 killed, 18 survivors rescued next day by a fishing boat). At 11 PM 10 miles North of Cuba, U-129 sinks American SS Millinocket (11 killed, 24 survivors picked up by 3 Cuban boats next morning).

In the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, American SS Santore sinks on a mine laid by U-701 on June 11 (3 killed, 43 survivors picked up after 30 minutes by the US Coast guard).

Day 1020 June 16, 1942

In the last act of Operations Vigourous and Harpoon, at 00.19 AM 115 miles North of Sidi Barrani, Egypt, U-205 sinks British cruiser HMS Hermione returning to Alexandria (87 killed, 440 rescued by destroyers HMS Aldenham, HMS Exmoor and HMS Beaufort). Royal Navy has lost 1 cruiser, 5 destroyers and 6 merchant ships sunk (with many more warships damaged) for only 2 freighters reaching Malta and 1 Italian cruiser sunk.

At 4.17 AM 25 miles East of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U-87 attacks convoy XB-25 sinking British SS Port Nicholson (2 killed, 85 survivors taken off by Canadian corvette HMCS Nanaimo, 2 crew and 4 Canadian sailors drown trying to reboard SS Port Nicholson) and American liner SS Cherokee (65 crew, 1 gunner and 20 US Army passengers killed; 47 crew, 10 gunners and 26 US Army passengers rescued by steamer Norlago and US Coast Guard cutter USS Escanaba).

Caribbean. 70 miles West of Grenada, U-126 sinks US steamers SS Arkansan at 2.30 AM (4 killed, 36 survivors) and SS Kahuku at 3.20 AM (6 crew, 3 gunners and 8 survivors from the Cold Harbor and Scottsburg, sunk yesterday by U-502, killed; 46 survivors). At 4 AM 50 miles North of Matanzas, Cuba, U-67 sinks Nicaraguan SS Managua (all 25 hands survive). At 2.10 PM, U-161 indulges in a little piracy, stopping Dominican sailing boat Nueva Altagracia with gunfire then taking onboard the cargo of fruit and chickens plus all 8 crew. Nueva Altagracia is sunk with scuttling charges. U-161 releases the crew next day to another Dominican sailing ship Ciudad Trujillo, after helping themselves to more fruit.

Libya. Churchill, reassured by General Auchinleck’s promise that Tobruk is secure, leaves England on a non-stop flight to USA to meet Roosevelt. However, Rommel attacks El Adem and Sidi Rezegh, South and East of Tobruk. With most of British 8th Army withdrawing into Egypt, it looks likely Tobruk will be cut off again.

Sevastopol. Having crushed Fort Stalin, German artillery and Luftwaffe bombers turn their attention to the massive Fort Maxim Gorky. When Maxim Gorky’s 12-inch guns cease firing, German 132nd Division overruns the Fort. Soviets will claim Fort Maxim Gorky ran out of shells but contemporary photographs show the guns destroyed.

Overnight, RAF sends 106 bombers (40 Wellingtons, 39 Halifaxes, 15 Lancasters, 12 Stirlings) on another inaccurate raid to Essen, Germany. Only 16 bomb Essen while 56 bomb other targets including 45 attacking Bonn. 4 Halifaxes, 3 Wellingtons, 1 Stirling are lost.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 1019 June 15, 1942

Between midnight and 5 AM, U-552 sinks 4 British freighters and Norwegian tanker Slemdal in convoy HG-84 in the Atlantic 400 miles West of Brest, France (total of 15,858 tons of shipping).

Malta resupply convoys.
At 5.39 AM in the Strait of Sicily, Italian cruisers from Sicily shell the Harpoon convoy from Gibraltar. British cruiser HMS Cairo is hit by two 6-inch shells (damaged in the bow but able to proceed, 2 killed), destroyer HMS Bedouin is immobilised by 12 6-inch shells and sinks after being hit by an Italian torpedo bomber (28 killed, 213 rescued and taken POW by the Italians) and destroyer HMS Partridge is also hit. Italian destroyer Vivaldi is hit by British gunfire and catches fire but is taken in tow. German bombers attack the merchant ships damaging freighter Burdwan and Chant and tanker Kentucky, which are abandoned and then sunk by the Italian warships. Overnight, the convoy reaches Malta but runs into a minefield entering the Grand Harbour. Polish destroyer ORP Kujawiak sinks (13 killed, 20 wounded) while British destroyers HMS Badsworth (9 killed) and HMS Matchless and the freighter Orari are damaged. Of the 6 merchant ships in the convoy, 4 have been sunk and only Troilus and Orari arrive at Malta.
Operation Vigourous from Alexandria, Egypt. At dawn, British Beaufort torpedo bombers from Malta (217 Squadron) attack the Italian battlefleet from Taranto, immobilizing cruiser Trento at 5.15 AM. At 9.10 AM a torpedo from British submarine HMS Umbra detonates the magazine and Trento sinks (over 360 crew killed). Vigourous convoy turns around due to the presence of the Italian battlefleet and returns to Alexandria. Axis aircraft attack all day, hitting British destroyer HMS Airedale in the magazine which then explodes (44 killed, 133 rescued) and damaging British cruiser HMS Birmingham and Australian destroyer HMAS Nestor which sinks next day.

Libya. General Auchinleck (C-in-C Middle East Command) has promised Churchill to defend a line at El Adem, West of Tobruk. However, his subordinate General Ritchie withdraws 8th Army into Egypt and orders 2nd South African Division under General Klopper to hold Tobruk in another siege.

At Sevastopol, Crimea, Soviet cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bezuprechny land 3855 troops and evacuate 2908 wounded, as well as bombarding German positions.

Baltic Sea. Yesterday, Soviet submarine M-95 left Moshchny Island (Finnish: Lavansaari Island) in the Gulf of Finland. M-95 is damaged by a mine in the recently-laid German Seeigel mine barrage near Hogland Island (Finnish: Suursaari Island) and then sunk by Finnish bombers (all 19 hands lost).

Convoy KN-109 blunders into a minefield (laid by U-701 on June 11) 5 miles off Virginia Beach, Virginia, sinking British anti-submarine trawler HMT Kingston Ceylonite (33 killed, 18 survivors) and US tanker Robert C. Tuttle (1 dead, 46 survivors). US tanker Esso Augusta and destroyer USS Bainbridge hit mines and are badly damaged (no casualties).

Caribbean. 90 miles West of Grenada, U-502 sinks 3 steamers (2 American, 1 Panamanian, total 18,713 tons). 50 miles off Costa Rica, U-172 sinks Norwegian SS Bennestvet. 20 miles off the North coast of Colombia, U-68 mistakenly sinks Vichy French tanker SS Frimaire (all 60 hands killed).

10 miles off Lubang Island, near Manila Bay, Philippines, US submarine USS Seawolf sinks Japanese auxiliary gunboat Nampo Maru.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 1018 June 14, 1942

Malta resupply convoys.
Operation Harpoon. In the morning, convoy from Gibraltar to Malta is attacked South of Sardinia by Italian SM.79 torpedo bombers, which sink Dutch MV Tanimbar (5 killed) and damage British cruiser HMS Liverpool (15 killed, 22 wounded; HMS Liverpool is towed back to Gibraltar by destroyer HMS Antelope). In the evening as the convoy enters the Strait of Sicily, all British escort warships turn back for Gibraltar except cruiser HMS Cairo and some destroyers. Unbeknownst to the British, Italian cruisers Raimondo Montecuccoli and Eugenio di Savoia plus destroyers Ascari, Oriani, Malocello, Premuda and Vivaldi leave Palermo, Sicily, to intercept the convoy.
Operation Vigourous from Alexandria, Egypt. Dutch freighter SS Aagtekerk heads to Tobruk with mechanical problems and British corvettes HMS Primula and HMS Erica leave Tobruk to meet her. 40 Ju87 and Ju88 bombers sink SS Aagtekerk (3 killed) and cause minor damage to HMS Primula. In late afternoon, Ju88 bombers from Crete sink SS Bhutan (1 killed) and damage freighter Potaro in the main convoy. Italian battleships Littorio and Vittorio Veneto, cruisers Trento, Gorizia, Garibaldi and Duca d'Aosta plus 12 destroyers sail from Taranto, Italy, to intercept. For the first time, they are equipped with radar. Overnight, German motor torpedoboats from Derna, Libya, attack the convoy. S-55 sinks British destroyer HMS Hasty (13 killed, survivors taken of by destroyer HMS Hotspur) and a torpedo from S-56 blows a hole through the bows of cruiser HMS Newcastle (returns to Alexandria, then under repair in New York until November).

Germans execute 50 citizens of Heraklion, Crete, in reprisal for yesterday’s British Commando raid on the airfield. They are commemorated today (along with 12 civilians killed on June 3) by Heraklion’s Avenue of the 62 Martyrs.

Libya. With the centre of the Gazala Line collapsing and the Southern ‘boxes’ gone, the Allied coastal ‘boxes’ (which have seen little action and are mostly intact) are abandoned to avoid being cut off. British forces hold Rommel at Rigel Ridge, allowing 1st South African Division to withdraw along the coast road to Tobruk. This road is too small for British 50th Division also, so they attack South into the desert through the Italian Brescia and Pavia Divisions before turning East to go around the German armour and back to Egypt.

Operation Pastorius. German saboteur George Dasch changes his mind about the sabotage mission and calls the FBI New York Office. Using the name "Pastorius", he informs them of the saboteurs arrival from Germany and says he will call FBI Headquarters when he gets to Washington.

Caribbean. At 8.54 AM 1942, U-172 sinks American SS Lebore (1 dead; 39 crewmen, 6 gunners and 49 rescued from Norwegian liner Crijnssen sunk on June 11 by U-504 all survive). At 7.12 PM 200 miles Southwest of the Cayman Islands, U-504 sinks Latvian SS Regent (11 killed, 14 survivors). American tanker SS Victory Sword sees the sinking and saves herself from attack by turning away at full speed and radioing distress messages.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 1017 June 13, 1942

After leaving base at Kronstadt, Leningrad, 2 days ago, Soviet submarine ShCh-405 is lost in the Tiger minefield off Seskar Island in the Baltic Sea (all 38 hands lost).

Sevastopol. At 3 AM, German 22nd Infantry Division attacks the massive Fort Stalin after 24 hours of dive bombing and shelling. At 5.30 AM, Germans capture the fort after clearing al the bunkers in fierce hand-to-hand fighting (German casualties are 32 dead, 126 wounded and Soviet casualties 180 killed, 20 taken prisoner). Despite shelling of Fort Stalin from the neighbouring Volga fort, Soviet troops do not try to retake Fort Stalin. Luftwaffe bombing of the docks sinks transport ships Gruzyia and TSch-27, patrol boat SKA-092, motor boat SP-40, 5 barges and a floating crane.

Operation Pastorius. U-202 lands 4 German saboteurs (including 1 US citizen), with enough explosives for a 2-year sabotage campaign, at Amagansett, Long Island, New York (today this is Atlantic Avenue beach). After being discovered by unarmed US Coast Guard John Cullen, who they release unharmed, they take the train into New York City.

In the Caribbean off the coast of Panama, U-159 sinks US liner SS Sixaola at 4.12 AM (29 crew sleeping in the bows killed by the torpedo strike; 87 crew, 6 gunners and 108 passengers in 5 lifeboats and 6 rafts rescued) and American SS Solon Turman at 7.38 PM (all 53 hands in 2 lifeboats rescued 28 hours later by Colombian schooners Envoy and Zaroma, but the assistant engineer falls overboard and drowns).

At 4 PM 28 miles South of Key West, Florida, US Coast Guard cutter USS Thetis sinks U-157 with depth charges (all 52 hands lost).

In the South Atlantic 650 miles South of Cape Verde Islands, Italian submarine Da Vinci sinks British collier SS Clan MacQuarrie (1 killed, 89 rescued).

Libya. German 21st Panzer Division advances East from the Cauldron, joining 15th Panzer & 90th Light Divisions and surrounding British troops in the Knightsbridge box. Rommel's use of tanks, anti-tank guns and aerial bombardment reduces British tank strength to 70, giving Afrika Korps superiority in tanks for the first time in the battles around Gazala. Overnight, surviving British troops retreat from Knightsbridge, precipitating a withdrawal towards the Egyptian frontier.

Crete. Overnight, British Commandos are landed from Greek submarines Papanicolis and Triton but are unable to reach Maleme airfield due to an electric fence. However, Commandos under George Jellicoe (son of WWI Admiral John Jellicoe), dropped on Crete by Greek submarine Triton on June 10, blow up 20 German Ju88 aircraft at Heraklion airfield using Lewes bombs.

HMS Farouk is a British Q-ship (Palestinian 2-masted caique requisitioned by 53 year-old Temporary Lieutenant Arthur Lockington, who has experience of Q-ships in WW1, and armed with 2 guns hidden in a false deckhouse), designed as bait to attract submarines that will then be attacked. At 11.10 AM near Ramkin Island, off Chekka, Lebanon, U-83 uses the deck gun from 3000 yards on HMS Farouk which sinks before the crew can return fire (9 killed).

27 Japanese aircraft (23rd Air Flotilla flying from Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies) attack Darwin, Australia.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 1016 June 12, 1942

is a very busy day for the submarines of many nations.

At 1.14 AM 40 miles off Sydney, Australia, Japanese submarine I-21 fires 4 torpedoes at a convoy sinking collier SS Guatemala (all hands rescued by Australian minesweeper HMAS Doomba). In the Mozambique Channel, I-16 sinks Yugoslavian merchant Supetar and I-20 sinks Panamanian merchant Hellenic Trader and British merchant Clifton Hall.

At 5.37 AM 25 miles off Bardia, Libya, U-77 sinks British destroyer HMS Grove returning from bringing supplies to Tobruk (110 killed, 60 survivors).

In the Aegean Sea, Greek submarine Papanikolis sinks 2 small sailing vessels Catina and Aghia Aikaterini.

550 miles East of Newfoundland, U-124 sinks British SS Dartford (30 killed, 14 crew and 3 gunners picked up by British rescue ship Gothland). 400 miles North of Puerto Rico, U-129 sinks British SS Hardwicke Grange (3 killed, 75 survivors). In the Gulf of Mexico 20 miles off Louisiana, U-158 sinks US tanker SS Cities Service Toledo carrying 84,000 barrels of crude oil (15 dead, 30 survivors).

In the Gulf of Siam 60 miles off Koh Rong Island, Cambodia, US submarine USS Swordfish sinks Japanese transport ship Burma Maru.

At dawn, in the first US Air Force bombing of Europe and the Middle East, 13 B-24s flying from Fayid, Egypt, (en route from US to China) bomb Ploesti oilfields, Romania, but cause minimal damage. 7 B-24s land at airfields in Iraq, 2 land in Syria and 4 are interned in Turkey.

Libya. While German 90th Light Division attacks towards the RAF airfield at El Adem, 15th Panzer overruns British anti-tank guns along nearby Rigel Ridge. The German tanks then turn South and crush British motorised infantry (201st Independent Guards Brigade) plus 2nd and 4th Armoured Brigade in an area known as “Knightsbridge” where the Trigh Capuzzo intersects another desert track. Rommel is only 15 miles from Tobruk and also threatens to cut off lines of retreat of the main British defensives at Gazala which now lie to his West.

British launch a desperate effort to bring supplies into Malta. In Operation Harpoon, 5 freighters and 1 tanker leave Gibraltar carrying 43,000 tons of cargo and oil, escorted by battleship HMS Malaya, aircraft carriers HMS Argus and HMS Eagle, 4 cruisers, 17 destroyers, 4 minesweepers, 1 minelayer and 6 motor gunboats. In Operation Vigourous, 11 ships sail from Haifa, Palestine, and Port Said, Egypt, escorted by 8 cruisers, 26 destroyers, 9 submarines and disarmed WWI-era battleship HMS Centurion (disguised as functional, after the Italian manned torpedo raid on Alexandria harbour in December 1941 incapacitated battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant). The Vigourous convoy is attacked by German Ju88 bombers South of Crete, damaging freighter City Of Calcutta which puts in at Tobruk.

At Sevastopol, Crimea, Soviet cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bditel'nyy bring 2,314 soldiers, 190 tons of ammunition and 28 artillery pieces.

Aleutian Islands. US 11th Air Force bombers again raid Kiska Island, damaging Japanese destroyer Hibiki which returns to Ōminato Guard District, Japan, for repairs lasting until October.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 1015 June 11, 1942

Overnight, General Kœnig’s Free French evacuate the fort at Bir Hacheim, Libya, along a path cleared in the minefields. They are spotted by the Germans and come under artillery fire, and the orderly procession becomes a panicked dash with many vehicles driving into the minefields and exploding. According to Susan Travers (Kœnig’s English mistress and driver, who will become the only woman to serve with the French Foreign Legion and receive their highest award, the Legion d'Honneur), walking wounded are ordered out of vehicles to reduce weight and the chance of setting off mines. The first French column reaches the British extraction point at 4 AM, although British patrols rescue lost vehicles and men all day. Bir Hacheim’s garrison was 3700; 2400 escape to British lines, 800 are killed during the siege and evacuation or captured during the breakout, and only 500 seriously wounded men are in the fort when the Germans enter. Despite an order from Hitler to execute French prisoners, Rommel treats them as ordinary POWs. Rommel sends 15th Panzer and 90th Light Divisions back Northeast towards El Adem, to attack British 8th Army who have worn themselves down in fruitless, piecemeal attacks on the Cauldron.

Battle of attrition at Sevastopol continues, with Soviets pushing in their last reserves. Luftwaffe flies 1044 sorties and drops 954 tons of bombs.

Aleutian Islands. US 11th Air Force bombers from Fort Randall Army Airfield, Cold Bay, and Fort Glenn Army Airfield, Umnak, attack Japanese troops on Kiska Island.

In the middle of the North Atlantic 500 miles East of Newfoundland, U-569 and U-94 combine to sink British SS Pontypridd, (2 killed, Captain taken POW by U-569 and imprisoned at camp Milag Nord, 45 survivors picked up by Canadian corvette HMCS Chambly). 500 miles Northeast of the Azores, U-455 sinks British tanker SS Geo H Jones (2 dead, 40 survivors).

Caribbean. U-159 attacks a small convoy off Panama and sinks British SS Fort Good Hope on her maiden voyage (2 killed, 45 survivors picked up by American gunboat USS Erie). 50 miles Southwest of Grand Cayman Island, U-504 sinks Norwegian liner Crijnssen carrying 10 survivors rescued from tanker MV Lise sunk on May 12 by U-69 and 12 rescued from tanker SS Sylvan Arrow sunk on May 20 by U-155 (1 killed, 92 survivors) and US SS American (4 killed, 34 survivors picked up by British SS Kent). 5 miles North of Cuba, sinks US tanker SS Hagan (Master (6 killed, 38 survivors drift ashore in 2 lifeboats).

In the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Louisiana, U-158 sinks Panamanian tanker MV Sheherazade (1 dead, 58 survivors picked up by 2 fishing boats).

In the early evening in the South Atlantic, German armed merchant cruiser Michel shells British freighter SS Lylepark (carrying 8000 tons of aircraft parts, petrol and military supplies from New York around the Cape) without any warning (20 killed, 21 taken POW by Michel). SS Lylepark’s Captain Charles Low is picked up by an aircraft from the Escort Carrier HMS Archer, while First Officer Read, Third Officer Coysh and a gunner are picked up Blue Star liner Avila Star – all are landed at Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Day 1014 June 10, 1942

Siege of Leningrad Day 276. On the Volkhov River, Soviet 2nd Shock Army’s has held a salient 40 miles deep since January 13 but they were cut off and surrounded by a German pincer on May 30. As the ground firms up in the late Spring, the German noose tightens and Soviet General Andrey Vlasov struggles to extract his 180,000 troops.

Soviet submarine D-3 goes missing with all hands in the Barents Sea, probably lost in Bantos-A minefield off Rybachy Peninsula, USSR, or Schpeer III minefield off Berlevog, Norway.

At Sevastopol, the battle of attrition continues with Luftwaffe pounding Soviet positions and German infantry making no progress. Soviet destroyer Svobodnyy and transport ship Abkhaziya (part of a flotilla regularly resupplying the besieged garrison and taking out wounded) are sunk by German dive-bombers as they unload in the port.

The Czech towns of Lidice and Ležáky have been incorrectly linked to the assassination of Richard Heydrich. On Hitler’s orders, everyone in Ležáky and all men in Lidice are murdered, while Lidice women are deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp (4 pregnant women are first forcibly aborted at the hospital where Heydrich died). Both towns are burned and Lidice is levelled. In total, 1300 people are massacred in retaliation for Heydrich's death.

Libya. At Bir Hacheim, General Kœnig’s Free French endure another day of assaults from German 15th Panzer Division and bombing by 100 Luftwaffe aircraft. French defenses hold, again with aid of British Bren gun carriers, as the garrison makes plans for a stealthy overnight evacuation. After dark, French sappers begin clearing a path to the Southwest through their own minefields, while German troops prepare for another attack in the morning (unaware that the French are essentially out of ammunition).

7 miles off the Egyptian coast 50 miles West of Alexandria, Egypt, U-81 and U-559 attack convoy AT-49. At 2.18 AM, U-81 sinks British SS Havre (18 crew and 2 gunners lost, 30 survivors picked up by the British armed trawler HMS Parktown). At 4.56 AM, U-559 torpedoes Norwegian tanker MV Athene igniting the cargo of 6000 tons of aviation fuel which burns for 2 days (14 killed, 17 survivors including many badly burned) and damages Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler RFA Brambleleaf which is towed to Alexandria to be used as an oil hulk (7 killed, 53 survivors picked up by Greek destroyer RHS Vasilissa Olga).

At 3.40 AM 880 miles East of Newfoundland, U-94 attacks convoy ONS-100 and sinks British SS Empire Clough on her maiden voyage (5 dead, 44 survivors rescued by British corvette HMS Dianthus and Portuguese trawler Argus) and SS Ramsay (35 crew and 5 gunners killed, 7 crew members and 1 gunner picked up by British corvette HMS Vervain).

At 8.06 PM 340 miles South of Bermuda, U-129 sinks Norwegian MV LA Christensen (all 31 hands escape in 3 lifeboats, picked up after 18 hours by Norwegian SS Bill).

Caribbean. At 5 AM 60 miles South of Cozumel, Mexico, U-107 sinks American SS Merrimack (43 killed, many in a grisly accident; 10 survivors). U-68 sinks 3 British ships heading to the Panama Canal; at 5.20 AM, MV Ardenvohr (1 dead, 70 survivors including 17 rescued from American SS Velma Lykes sunk by U-68 on June 5) and SS Surrey (12 dead and 55 survivors) and just before midnight MV Port Montreal (all 88 on board escape in 4 lifeboats, including 43 rescued from SS Tela sunk by U-504 on June 8, but 2 die before the survivors are picked up 6 days later by Colombian schooner Hiloa).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 1013 June 9, 1942

Mediterranean. South of Palma, a British PBY Catalina flying boat sinks Italian submarine Zaffiro (all 47 hands lost). British aircraft carrier HMS Eagle from Gibraltar flies off 32 Spitfires fighters to Malta (all arrive safely). HMS Eagle has made 3 runs since early May, bringing 76 Spitfires to Malta to create 5 full squadrons (126, 185, 249, 601, 603 Squadrons) and give RAF air superiority over the Germans and Italians. U-83’s reign of terror on small boats in the Eastern Mediterranean continues, using the deck gun to sink Palestinian sailing ship Typhoon at 11.15 AM 4 miles Southwest of Sidon, Lebanon.

Libya. Free French 1st Infantry Brigade at Bir Hacheim is desperately low on supplies, with food and ammunition for 1 day and almost no water. In the morning under fog cover, British aircraft drop 34 gallons of water to the fort. At noon, 15th Panzer Division arrives and at 1 PM launches an attack supported by German infantry, under heavy artillery barrage and Luftwaffe bombing by 130 aircraft. The French defenses hold with help of British Bren gun carriers. Realizing the hopeless situation and acknowledging the French determination to hold the Southern end of the Gazala Line, British General Ritchie orders the fort to be evacuated next day.

At 4.10 AM 925 miles East of Ireland, U-124 attacks convoy ONS-100 sinking Free French corvette FFL Mimosa with 2 torpedoes (59 French, mostly from the small Newfoundland island of St. Pierre et Miquelon, and 6 British sailors killed; 4 French sailors picked up by Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine). At 1 PM 100 miles Southwest of Pubnico, Nova Scotia, U-432 fire 4 torpedoes at convoy BX-23A, mildly damaging British MV Malayan Prince (no casualties) but causing major damage to Norwegian MV Kronprinsen (1 killed, towed to Pubnico and beached, then towed to Boston, Massachusetts, in October for repairs).

35 miles Northeast of Cape Blanco, Venezuela, U-502 attacks convoy TO-5 sinking Belgian SS Bruxelles and US tanker SS Franklin K Lane (carrying 73,000 barrels of crude oil, 4 dead and 37 survivors picked up after 3 hours by British destroyer HMS Churchill).

Sevastopol. German 11th Army cannot consolidate its gains against dug in Soviet defenses and LIV Corps takes another 1,700 casualties in fruitless assaults. German troops dig in and allow Luftwaffe and the big guns Thor and Gustav to blast Soviet troops out.

In response to the Japanese occupation of Attu and Kiska at the Western end of the Aleutian Islands, the US Naval Air Station on Kodiak Island is commissioned as Naval Operating Base, comprising Naval Air Station, Submarine Base and Section Base.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 1012 June 8, 1942

Overnight Japanese submarines shell Australian coastal cities, Sydney and Newcastle. After midnight, I-24 surfaces 9 miles Southeast of Sydney and in 4 minutes fires 10 rounds at Sydney Harbour Bridge (no hits), before diving to avoid fire from coastal artillery. 9 shells land in the Eastern suburbs causing minor injuries but only 1 explodes demolishing a house. Fearing a Japanese invasion, some Sydney residents panic and flee the city. At 2.15 AM, I-21 shells Newcastle from a distance of 6 miles, firing 34 shells in 16 minutes at the BHP steelworks. Only 1 shell explodes damaging a house and a dud hits a tram terminus (again only minor injuries). Fort Scratchley return fire without damaging I-21, the only time Australian land fortifications fire on an enemy warship.

In the Caribbean. At 1.19 AM 100 miles East of Cozumel, Mexico, U-107 sinks American SS Suwied (6 killed, 27 survivors picked up 19 hours later by US Coast Guard patrol vessel USCGC Nemesis). At 5 AM 10 miles South of Cape Beata, Dominican Republic, U-172 sinks US MV Sicilien (44 killed including 19 US Army troops, 31 survivors on rafts reach the Dominican Republic). 100 miles Southeast of Cozumel, U-504 sinks Honduran SS Tela with 2 torpedoes at 7 AM (11 killed, 43 survivors on 2 lifeboats and 2 rafts picked up 12 hours later by British MV Port Montreal) and British SS Rosenborg with 60 rounds from the deck gun at 6 PM (4 killed, 23 survivors picked up by Norwegian MV Geisha).

At 2.19 PM 400 miles East of Trinidad, U-128 sinks Norwegian tanker MV South Africa (6 dead, 36 survivors in 2 motor lifeboats reach Trinidad 7 days later after declining offers from several merchant vessels to come on board).

At 3.16 AM 225 miles Northwest of Bermuda, U-135 sinks Norwegian MV Pleasantville (2 dead, 35 crew and 10 US Army engineers in 3 lifeboats rescued by American SS Chickasaw City and Polish MV Paderewski).

At the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, U-83 sinks Egyptian SS Said with 50 rounds from the deck gun 15 miles Southwest of the ancient Palestinian port of Jaffa at 5.11 AM (5 dead, 9 survivors) and Palestinian sail boat Esther with gunfire 10 miles off Sidon, Lebanon, at 11.30 PM. In the evening 100 miles North of Cape Bon, Tunisia, Italian submarine Alagi mistakenly torpedoes and sinks Italian destroyer Antoniotto Usodimare which is escorting a Rommel supply convoy from Naples, Italy, to Tripoli Libya (survivors rescued by another convoy escort, Italian torpedo boat Cigno).

Libya. In the morning under cover of heavy fog, a British convoy reaches the fort at Bir Hacheim to resupply the 1st Free French Division. Rommel has arrived to command the attack, using the same weather to bring up tanks and 88mm guns to fire directly on the fort. General Kesselring provides massive Luftwaffe support, including 42 Stukas. Germans penetrate the outer defenses again and dig in only 200 yards from the fort.

Japanese submarines disrupt Allied shipping in the Mozambique Channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. At 9.53 AM, I-10 torpedoes and sinks British SS King Lud (no survivors). I-16 sinks Greek merchant Aghios Georgios IV and I-18 sinks Norwegian merchant Wilford, both with shellfire from the deck gun. In the middle of the Indian Ocean, I-20 sinks Greek merchant Christos Markettos.

Overnight, 170 RAF bombers (92 Wellingtons, 42 Halifaxes, 14 Stirlings, 13 Lancasters, 9 Hampdens) attack Essen, Germany. The raid is again inaccurate with bombs scattered over a wide area (13 killed, 42 injured). 7 Wellingtons, 7 Halifaxes, 3 Lancasters, 1 Hampden and 1 Stirling are lost.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 1011 June 7, 1942

Overnight, a British aircraft in the Bay of Biscay bombs Italian submarine Torelli using radar, causing serious damage to the submarine. Torelli is run aground on the North coast of Spain to prevent sinking and make temporary repairs. Torelli sets off to return to Bordeaux but is bombed and strafed by 2 British Sunderland flying boats (1 killed, 2 wounded). Torelli is again run aground for further repairs, near Santander, until June 14 when she escapes to Bordeaux to avoid internment by the Spanish. In the Mediterranean near Palma, British PBY Catalina flying boats damage Italian submarine Veniero in the morning and then attack again at noon, sinking her.

Libya. Overnight, German engineers penetrate the minefield at the fort at Bir Hacheim and attack the inner perimeter. They are held by fierce Free French resistance and RAF bombing of the exposed German positions.

Yesterday’s torpedo damage to US carrier USS Yorktown corrected her list from 26o to 17o, raising hopes she can be reboarded and taken in tow. At dawn, Yorktown’s list is seen to be increasing again and she is ceremonially surrounded by her destroyer escort (flags at half mast and crews standing to attention) as she rolls over and sinks at 4.58 AM. The wreck of USS Yorktown will be found in May 1998 by underwater explorer Robert Ballard.

German 11th Army begins the ground assault, under an artillery and aerial barrage, on the heavily-defended Soviet port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula. The main thrust is by German LIV Corps along the Belbek River, Northeast of the city. LIV Corps overruns several strongpoints on the main Soviet defensive line and captures the town of Belbek by 5.15 PM, threatening the nearby Soviet airfield (LIV Corps has 2,357 casualties, including 340 killed).

700 miles Southwest of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Italian submarine Da Vinci sinks Danish MV Chile (5 killed, 39 rescued).

Japanese troops make unopposed landings on the tiny islands of Attu (20 by 35 miles) and Kiska (22 miles long, 1.5 to 6 miles wide) at the Western end of the Aleutian Islands. This is the only part of USA occupied during WWII.

35 miles off the Northwest tip of Washington State, USA, Japanese submarine I-26 sinks US freighter Coast Trader (1 killed, 36 crew and 19 gunners picked up by Canadian corvette HMCS Edmundston and fishing boat Virginia I).

WWI-era minesweeper USS Gannet is acting as a seaplane tender to Patrol Squadron VP-74 at Hamilton, Bermuda. At 7.42 AM 240 miles North of Bermuda, U-653 sinks USS Gannet returning from a search for survivors from British SS Westmoreland sunk on June 1 by U-566 (14 killed; 62 survivors including many injured float on 2 rafts; 2 aircraft from VP-74 land daringly in heavy seas to rescue 22, 40 picked up by US minesweeper USS Hamilton).

Caribbean. At 4.08 AM 75 miles South of Sandino, Cuba, U-107 sinks Honduran SS Castilla (24 killed, 35 survivors picked up 6 days later by US Coast Guard patrol vessel USCGC Nike). 50 miles North of Sandino, U-158 sinks Panamanian SS Hermis (1 dead; 46 survivors, including 12 wounded, picked up by US Army transport Toloa). At 10.24 PM 200 miles Southeast of Jamaica, U-159 sinks US SS Edith (2 killed, 29 survivors in 1 lifeboat and 2 rafts land in Jamaica 7 days later).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 1010 June 6, 1942

At 2 AM in the South Atlantic, speedboat Esau from German armed merchant cruiser Michel torpedoes US liberty ship SS George Clymer (carrying 24 US aircraft). George Clymer stays afloat badly damaged and is scuttled next day by British armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara, which takes off the crew. Michel intends to attack HMS Alcantara during the rescue operation but mistimes the attack and arrives too late.

At 3.07 AM 60 miles Southwest of Puerto Rico, U-68 sinks Panamanian tanker MV C.O. Stillman carrying 125,812 barrels fuel oil (3 killed, 55 survivors).

Aftermath, Battle of Midway. 170 miles North of Midway, US carrier USS Yorktown is still afloat but on fire, under tow by minesweeper USS Vireo. At 4.30 AM, Japanese submarine I-168 penetrates the escort screen of cruisers and destroyers. At 6 AM, destroyer USS Hammann puts a salvage party aboard and remains alongside to provide power. At 1.31 PM, I-168 fires 4 torpedoes hitting USS Hammann which sinks in 4 minutes (84 killed, mainly by her primed depth charges exploding; 104 survivors including 72 wounded rescued by destroyers USS Balch and USS Benham) and USS Yorktown (remains afloat but the salvage party evacuates). US destroyers counterattack, dropping 40 depth charges and causing much damage to I-168 which escapes back to Japan. 560 miles West of Midway, US reconnaissance aircraft find the cruisers and destroyers reported yesterday by submarine USS Tambor. From 9.45 AM to 2.45 PM, 3 waves of dive-bombers from carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet attack, hitting destroyers Arashio (37 killed) & Asashio (22 killed) once each and cruisers Mikuma & Mogami (81 killed) with at least 5 bombs each. Mogami survives having dumped all her ordnance following yesterday’s collision but Mikuma is badly damaged by her own torpedoes exploding and sinks after dark (650 killed, 240 rescued by Mogami, Asashio and Arashio).

Japanese submarine I-16 joins the commerce raiding in the Mozambique Channel, sinking Yugoslavian freighter Susak with the deck gun just of the coast of Mozambique.

Near the equator in the middle of the Atlantic, German armed merchant cruiser Stier attacks Panamanian tanker Stanvac Calcutta which fires back with her 4-inch gun hitting Stier twice. Stier responds with 123 rounds from the 6-inch gun, scoring 40 hits and sinking Stanvac Calcutta (12 killed, 36 crew taken prisoner).

At Sevastopol, Germans continue pounding Soviet defenses with Luftwaffe bombing and artillery bombardment, including 600mm siege mortars Thor and Odin plus 800mm railway gun Schwerer Gustav which fires 7 shells at Fort Molotov and busts "Ammunition Mountain" (an undersea ammunition magazine covered with 10m of concrete, 30m under the sea in Severnaya Bay) with another 9 shells.

Libya. Following the retreat of Allied tanks in the aborted Operation Aberdeen, 3 Indian infantry battalions and 4 artillery regiments left in the Cauldron are overrun by Italian and German troops. With the battle in the Cauldron won, Rommel sends 90th Light Division to assist the assault on the Free French troops at Bir Hacheim fort.

Overnight, 233 RAF bombers (124 Wellingtons, 40 Stirlings, 27 Halifaxes, 20 Lancasters, 15 Hampdens, 7 Manchesters) attack Emden, Germany (300 houses destroyed, 17 killed and 49 injured). 3 Manchesters, 3 Wellingtons, 2 Stirlings and 1 Halifax are lost. Luftwaffe bombs Canterbury in Southeast England.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 1009 June 5, 1942

Aftermath, Battle of Midway. At 2.15 AM 100 miles West of Midway, 4 Japanese cruisers and 2 destroyers spot approaching US submarine USS Tambor and start zigzagging. Cruisers Mogami and Mikuma collide, causing serious damage to Mogami's bow (92 killed). At 4.50 AM, the flagship of the carrier fleet, Akagi, is ceremonially scuttled by 1 torpedo each from destroyers Arashi, Hagikaze, Maikaze and Nowaki. At 5.10 AM, Japanese carrier Hiryū is scuttled by torpedoes from destroyer Makigumo (Hiryū’s Captain Kaku and Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, commander of the 2nd Carrier Division, go down with the ship).

Japanese begin commerce raiding in the Mozambique Channel. 350 miles off Durban, South Africa, surface raiders Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru sink British liner SS Elysia (which suffered 5 torpedo attacks in WWI without sinking) en route from Glasgow to Bombay. Submarine I-20 sinks Panamanian merchant Johnstown, 100 miles off Pemba, Mozambique. 45 miles off Inhassoro, Mozambique, submarine I-10 sinks Panamanian Atlantic Gulf at 2.31 AM and American freighter Melvin H Baker at 10.44 AM.

At Sevastopol, Germans continue to soften up the Soviet defenders with artillery bombardment and Luftwaffe bombing. German 800mm railway gun Schwerer Gustav is brought up and fires 6 shells (weighing 4,800kg with an explosive load of 700kg capable of creating a crater 10m wide by 10 m deep) at Fort Stalin and another 8 shells Soviet coastal gun batteries at a range of 25km.

Libya. After interminable delay, General Ritchie finally sends massed armor of British 8th Army against Rommel in the Cauldron (Operation Aberdeen). At 3 AM a misdirected artillery barrage falls in empty desert and serves only warn the Germans of the impending attack. When Ritchie’s tanks move forward with British and Indian infantry, the German anti-tank guns are ready and quickly break up the attack. Rommel goes on the attack in the afternoon, overrunning the headquarters of 2 British Divisions as well as 9th and 10th Indian Infantry Brigades.

Free French submarine Rubis lays mines in the Bay of Biscay which will sink French ship Quand Meme (on June 26) and Kriegsmarine minesweepers M-4212 (June 12) and M-4448 (July 10).

United States of America declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

In the Caribbean. At 3.32 AM 15 miles off Cancun, Mexico, U-158 torpedoes American SS Velma Lykes which sinks within a minute (15 killed, 17 survivors). At 6.08 AM 120 miles North of Puerto Rico, U-172 sinks American SS Delfina (4 dead, 27 survivors). At 8.49 PM Dominican Republic, U-68 hits US tanker SS LJ Drake with 3 torpedoes causing the cargo of 72,961 barrels of gasoline to explode (all 40 hands killed immediately). U-159 shoots up 2 sailing boats with the 20mm anti-aircraft gun 85 miles South of Punta Cana (Brazilian schooner Paracury at 5.27 AM and Honduran vessel Sally at 8.10 PM).

At 10.10 PM 650 miles East of St. John’s, Newfoundland, U-94 sinks neutral Portuguese sailing ship Maria da Glória with the deck gun (2 killed immediately). 42 crew escape in 9 dories; 8 are rescued on July 15 by US Coast Guard yacht USCG Sea Cloud but 34 others are never found.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 1008 June 4, 1942

Battle of Midway. At 4.30 AM, Japanese carriers launch 72 bombers and 36 Zero fighters to destroy the airfield at Midway but they are detected by a US reconnaissance seaplane 150 miles from Midway and tracked by American radar. Midway launches fighters to intercept and sends unescorted bombers to attack the Japanese fleet. Japanese win the aerial battle over Midway at 6.20 AM but the bombers find no US aircraft on the ground and do relatively little damage to the airfield so another aerial attack is needed before troops go ashore (and to protect the Japanese fleet). Bombers waiting on the Japanese carriers to attack US warships, armed with torpedoes, are sent below to re-arm with bombs to finish off Midway. At 7 AM, US carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet (Task Force 16) launch all their torpedo and dive bombers towards the Japanese warships and USS Yorktown launches an hour later. At 8.30 AM, Admiral Nagumo receives surprising news from a reconnaissance aircraft reporting a US carrier, causing him to reverse his orders (bombs to be taken off the bombers and torpedoes put back on). US bombers from Midway and the carriers attack the Japanese fleet in uncoordinated waves, and are dealt with effectively by anti-aircraft fire and Zero fighters, but, at 10.22 AM, Dauntless SBD dive bombers from USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown attack simultaneously from high altitude while the Zeros are occupied with torpedo bombers. In 5 minutes Japanese carriers Sōryū, Kaga, and Akagi are hit with their flight decks covered with refueling aircraft and piles of bombs and torpedoes, turning the 3 carriers into infernos. USS Yorktown is hit by dive bombers from the remaining carrier Hiryū at noon, then torpedo bombers from Hiryū immobilize her at 2.40 PM (Yorktown abandoned at 2.55 PM, although remaining afloat listing badly). At 5.03 PM, Hiryū is set on fire from bow to stern by 4 1000-lb bombs from SBD dive bombers (USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown). In the final act, Sōryū sinks at 7.13 PM (711 killed, including Captain Yanagimoto who chooses to go down with his ship, 392 taken off by the destroyers Isokaze and Hamakaze) and Kaga is scuttled at 7.25 by destroyer Hagikaze (811 killed, 900 taken off by destroyers Hagikaze and Maikaze).

At 4 AM 20 miles off the Western end of Cuba, U-159 sinks Norwegian SS Nidarnes (13 killed, 11 survivors picked up by an American ship).

Early in the morning 750 miles Northeast of Natal, Brazil, German armed merchant cruiser Stier attacks British SS Gemstone ‘out of the sun’. After the crew is taken on board, Stier sinks SS Gemstone, which is carrying iron ore from South Africa to USA, with a torpedo.

In Strait of Malacca 20 miles South of Phuket, Thailand, British submarine HMS Trusty sinks Japanese cargo ship Toyohashi Maru.

260 miles South of Sydney, Australia, near Gabo Island, Japanese submarine I-27 misses Australian coastal freighter SS Barwon at 5.35 AM and torpedoes ore carrier SS Iron Crown at 4.45 PM which sinks in less than a minute (37 killed, 5 survivors rescued by British-Indian SS Mulbera). A RAAF Hudson bomber on patrol from Bairnsdale spots the submarine and attacks with two 250-lb anti-submarine bombs but I-27 escapes undamaged.

Day 1007 June 3, 1942

Japanese attack the Aleutian Islands (part of Alaska, USA) with a bombing raid on US naval base at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska Island, 200 miles West of the Alaskan Peninsula. They have 3 aims; first, to distract the Americans from the main event at Midway; secondly, to draw out any American warships defending the Aleutians to destroy them using carrier aircraft; and thirdly, to occupy 2 small islands further West in the island chain to forestall any possible US attack on Japan across the Northern Pacific (although these landings will be delayed in the event of a naval battle). At 2.43 AM in dense fog, 12 dive bombers and 6 Zero fighters take off from light aircraft carrier Junyo (they shoot down a US flying boat but then get lost and return to Junyo) and 11 torpedo bombers plus 6 Zeros take off from light carrier Ryujo, reaching Dutch Harbor. They find no ships in the harbor for their torpedoes but instead strafe the Army barracks and radio station as well as taking reconnaissance photographs (25 US troops killed, 2 Japanese bombers shot down by anti-aircraft fire). A fuel leak forces a Zero fighter to crashland in the tundra on a small island, killing the pilot. The Zero will be recovered intact 5 weeks later and transported back to USA for analysis, revealing defensive weaknesses in armor, lack of self-sealing fuel tanks and other safety flaws.

At 4.10 AM 400 miles Northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, U-172 torpedoes American SS City of Alma which sinks immediately on her cargo of 7400 tons of manganese ore (29 killed, 10 survivors picked up 4 days later by American patrol boat USS YP-67). At 9.26 AM, U-156 sinks British schooner Lillian (running passengers and rum between Caribbean islands) with 322 rounds of gunfire (3 dead, 22 survivors). From 5 AM to 10 AM 245 miles Northwest of Bermuda, U-404 attacks and sinks neutral Swedish SS Anna (all 17 hands rescued).

In the morning, US Catalina PBY seaplanes from Midway spot elements of the Japanese fleet, providing crucial information on location, direction and speed. At 12.30 PM, 9 US B-17 bombers take off from Midway and bomb Japanese troop transport ships 660 miles West of Midway 3 hours later but score no hits n the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire from the escorts.

Luftwaffe aircraft continue bombarding Sevastopol along with German artillery, including two 600mm (24 inch) siege mortars Thor and Odin. From June 2 to 6, Thor and Odin fire 19 heavy concrete-piercing shells weighing 2,170 kg and carrying 289 kg of explosive which make a crater 15m wide and 5m deep.

In the Atlantic 400 miles East of Guyana, U-126 attacks Norwegian tanker MV Høegh Giant all day, finally sinking her at 1.40 AM next morning (all 39 hands survive but have a long and harrowing return to safety).

At dusk 35 miles East of Sydney, Australia, Japanese submarine I-24 is recharging her batteries on the surface when lookouts spot Australian coastal freighter SS Age in the distance. I-24 fires a torpedo and 4 rounds from the deck gun but cannot chase SS Age which escapes undamaged. 90 minutes later, I-24 sinks Australian SS Iron Chieftain Iron Chieftain with a torpedo (12 killed).

At 9 PM 40 miles off the Western end of Nova Scotia, U-432 sinks 2 tiny unarmed US fishing boats with shellfire, after allowing the crews to escape. At 9.56 PM 150 miles Northwest of Trinidad, U-502 sinks US tanker SS MF Elliott (13 killed; 27 survivors picked up at dawn next day by US destroyer USS Tarbell; 2 survivors are questioned on board U-502 for 3 hours, put on a raft with provisions and picked up 5 days later by Brazilian tanker SS Santa Maria).

Overnight, RAF 170 aircraft bombers attack Bremen, Germany, causing damage to housing, the harbour and German destroyer Z-25 (83 dead, 258 injured, 4 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings, 1 Manchester lost). Luftwaffe bombers attack Poole, England.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 1006 June 2, 1942

450 miles Southeast of Bermuda, U-159 torpedoes American SS Illinois at 2.53 AM, which sinks immediately on her cargo of 8000 tons of manganese ore (32 dead, 6 survivors picked up 6 days later by American tanker SS Esso Montpelier) and U-558 sinks Dutch SS Triton with the deck gun at 2.55 AM (6 killed, 29 crew and 1 passenger picked up after 3 days by American SS Mormacport). Off the Western end of Cuba, U-158 sinks American SS Knoxville City at 2.57 AM (2 killed, 37 crewmen, 14 gunners and 4 passengers abandon ship in 2 lifeboats and reach Cuba).

Off the Northeast coast of USA, U-553 sinks British MV Mattawin at 7.18 AM (all crew, gunners and passengers survive) and Norwegian MV Berganger is missed by 5 torpedoes from U-213 between 3.32 and 7.05 AM but then sunk at 8.27 PM by U-578 southeast of Cape Cod (4 dead, 43 survivors).

Luftwaffe bombers return to the Crimean peninsula to open a renewed campaign to capture the massive Soviet port of Sevastopol, home of the Black Sea Fleet, following their crushing of the Soviet offensive at Kharkov. Under Luftwaffe General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, they fly 723 missions and drop 525 tons of high explosive targeting submarine bases, oil storage, electricity, water pumps, and harbour facilities. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, only 1 Ju87 dive bomber is lost.

85 miles South of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci sinks Panamanian schooner Reine Marie Stewart.

In Libya, Rommel is growing desperately short of food, water, fuel and ammunition; his offensive is threatening to stall out. After conquering British 150th Brigade, he sends German 90th Light Division and Italian Trieste Division to attack Free French troops at Bir Hacheim, who have been preventing supply convoys getting through South of the British minefields. 12 miles Northeast of Bardia, U-652 is depth charged by British Martin 187 Baltimore aircraft (RAF 203 Squadron) and Swordfish torpedo bombers (815 Naval Air Squadron). U-652 is severely damage and abandoned (all 46 hands rescued by U-81 which scuttles U-652).

US naval forces heading from Oahu to defend Midway Atoll (Admiral Spruance’s Task Force 16 with aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet and Admiral Fletcher’s Task Force 17 with carrier USS Yorktown) meet up at Point Luck, a predetermined rendezvous 325 miles Northeast of Midway. The entire force comes under Fletcher’s command.

Australian auxiliary patrol boat HMAS Kuru arrives at Portuguese East Timor from Australia bringing supplies to Sparrow Force.

Overnight, RAF send 195 bombers (97 Wellingtons, 38 Halifaxes, 27 Lancasters, 21 Stirlings, 12 Hampdens) back to Essen, Germany, but the raid is no more accurate than last night (only 3 high-explosive bombs and 300 incendiary canisters hit the city, with no serious damage or casualties). 7 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings and 1 Hampden are lost. Luftwaffe bombs Canterbury, England, in retaliation for the bombing of Essen yesterday.