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.

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