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).

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