Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 1066 August 1, 1942

At 00.23 AM 30 miles South of Belushya Guba (capital of the mountainous Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Barents Sea), U-601 sinks Soviet collier SS Krest’janin (7 killed, 38 survivors in 2 lifeboats reach Belushya Guba).

Eastern Front. At the Rzhev salient, 130 miles West of Moscow, Soviet General Konev’s Northern pincer (29th and 30th Armies) makes good progress but heavy rains delay the start of Zhukov’s Southern pincer (20th and 31st Armies). Zhukov uses the time to mount large-scale deceptive troop and tank movements 75 miles further South at Yukhnov. The Germans are fooled, launching air strikes and beginning to move forces South to face the expected attack.

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer Army turns Northeast towards Kotelnikovo, 100 miles Southwest of Stalingrad. Attacking from this unexpected direction (a fortunate outcome of Hitler’s contradictory orders), 4th Panzer meets little Soviet resistance. Further South in the Caucasus, 1st Panzer Army captures Salsk, having advanced 90 miles in a week since crossing the River Don. Fuel shortages hamper the use of tanks and most of the progress is made by light motorised infantry.

North Atlantic. Southeast of Barbados, U-155 sinks Dutch SS Kentar carrying 1500 tons of manganese ore at 2.20 AM (17 killed, 62 survivors rescued after several days, but some die of exposure) and British SS Clan MacNaughton at 6 PM (5 killed, 77 survivors). 100 miles East of Trinidad, Italian submarine Tazzoli sinks Greek SS Kastor (4 killed, 31 rescued).

In the Tsugaru Strait between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, US submarine USS Narwhal sinks Japanese freighter Meiwa Maru and small tanker Koan Maru.

After months of denials and numerous Japanese ships not sunk by malfunctioning torpedoes, US Bureau of Ordnance finally concedes that the standard-issue Mark 14 torpedo runs deep. Other problems include magnetic triggers that explode prematurely and contact triggers that fail to detonate on contact (duds).

At 1.35 PM 35 miles northwest of Beirut, Lebanon, U-77 sinks Egyptian sailboat St. Simon with 7 rounds after the crew abandons ship.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 1065 July 31, 1942

At 5.47 AM in dense fog 10 miles North of Kiska Island in the Aleutians, US submarine USS Grunion torpedoes and damages Japanese transport ship Kashima Maru. USS Grunion is sunk by the 80mm anti-aircraft gun mounted on the freighter (all 70 hands lost). USS Grunion will be found in 2007 by the sons of the captain, Lieutenant Commander Mannert Abele.

North Atlantic. Following U-754’s sinking of US fishing boat MV Ebb 2 days ago, Squadron Leader Norville Small (commander of RCAF 113 Squadron) searches the area South of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with patrols from RCAF Station Yarmouth. 120 miles Southwest of Halifax, Squadron Leader Small spots U-754 on the surface and sinks her with depth charges from his Lockheed Hudson (all 43 hands lost). 760 miles East of St. John’s, Newfoundland, U-164, U-210, U-217, U-511, U-553 and U-588 harass convoy ON 115 but are driven off by convoy escorts. Canadian corvette HMCS Wetaskiwin and destroyer HMCS Skeena sink U-588 with depth charges (all 46 hands lost). 150 miles East of the Azores, U-213 approaches convoy OS 35 (from Liverpool to Freetown, Sierra Leone) but is detected by the escorts. British sloops HMS Erne, HMS Rochester and HMS Sandwich sink U-213 with depth charges (all 50 hands lost).

Case Blue. With German 6th Army making little progress against Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies, West of the Don, Hitler reverses his order of July 23 (which detached 4th Panzer Army from the attack on Stalingrad). He sends 4th Panzer sent back North to assist 6th Army, causing further logistical confusion.

Tanimbar Island in the Banda Sea. 30 Australian troops in 2 small ships (Plover Force) attempt to reinforce Dutch KNIL troops but they are seen off with Japanese shellfire and return to Australia. Japanese troops land again covered by naval gunfire causing the Dutch to retreat and escape to Australia.

Kokoda track. Another Japanese convoy attempting to land troops at Buna on the North coast of Papua is forced by US bombers to return to Rabaul, New Britain.

US invasion of the Southern Solomon Islands (Operation Watchtower). 75 American and Australian warships and troop transports leave Fiji for Guadalcanal, commanded by US Admiral Frank Fletcher. 16,000 Allied infantry (primarily US 1st Marine Division) are commanded by US General Alexander Vandegrift. Meanwhile, US B-17 bombers soften up the Japanese airfield on Guadalcanal.

Overnight, 630 RAF bombers (308 Wellingtons, 113 Lancasters, 70 Halifaxes, 61 Stirlings, 54 Hampdens & 24 Whitleys) drop 900 tons of bombs on Düsseldorf, Germany (67 large fires started; 453 buildings destroyed, 15,000 damaged; 279 civilians killed, 1018 injured, 12,053 made homeless). 16 Wellingtons, 5 Hampdens, 4 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters and 2 Whitleys are lost. From 2.15 AM to 3.25 AM, Luftwaffe bombers drop 46 tons of bombs on Hull, England, causing extensive damage to Victoria Dock and houses on Grindell Street.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 1064 July 30, 1942

At 1.10 AM 100 miles Southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, U-132 (leaving the Gulf of St. Lawrence) attacks convoy ON-113, sinking British MV Pacific Pioneer (all 59 crew members, 8 gunners and 4 passengers picked up by Canadian corvette HMCS Calgary and landed at Halifax).

At 4 AM, Japanese troops land on Maluku Islands, Dutch East Indies (in the Banda Sea between Timor and New Guinea) to shore up their positions North of Australia. The smaller Aru Island and Babar Island are occupied unopposed, while the 28 Dutch colonial troops (KNIL) holding Kai Island are rapidly overcome. The only serious resistance is at Tanimbar Island where Japanese troops land on the jetty at Saumlaki to march into town in formation. 13 KNIL troops open fire with 2 light machineguns at close range, sending the Japanese back to their boats (several killed).

Repatriation of British and Japanese diplomats begins. Japanese liner Tatuta Maru leaves Yokohama, Japan, carrying British Ambassador Sir Robert Craigie and embassy staff to Lourenço Marques, Portuguese East Africa (now Maputo, Mozambique). To ensure safe passage, all exchange vessels have large white crosses and national flags painted prominently on the sides and they sail fully illuminated at night.

In the Philippines Sea 40 miles Southwest of Truk Island, US submarine USS Grenadier hits Japanese oiler San Clemente Maru with 2 torpedoes. The Mark-14 torpedoes, which are riddled with problems including faulty firing pins, cause an audible clang but fail to explode.

In the Baltic Sea 1 mile off Pavilosta, Latvia, Soviet submarine SC-7 sinks German SS Kathe.

Eastern Front. 130 miles West of Moscow, Soviets launch attacks to eliminate the German salient at Rzhev (North of the salient, General Konev’s Kalinin Front sends 30th Army to Rzhev and 29th Army to nearby Zubtsov). Case Blue - German Panzers continue their charge into the Caucasus across the flat terrain South of the River Don, while Paulus’s 6th Army struggles to make progress against Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies on the West bank of the Don Bend.

U-375 joins U-77 shooting up small sailing vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean. At 12.16 PM East of Cyprus, U-77 fires 3 torpedoes at a small warship escorting a convoy but sinks Egyptian sailboat Fany instead (all 10 crew survive). At the same time 110 miles South of Cyprus, U-375 stops 2 Egyptian sailboats Amina and Ikbal with shots across the bow and then sinks both with the deck gun after the crews abandon ship.

At 7.58 PM 250 miles East of Barbados, U-155 torpedoes American SS Cranford which sinks in 3 minutes on the cargo of 6600 tons of chrome ore and 1600 tons of cotton (11 killed, 36 survivors on 1 lifeboat and 2 rafts picked up next morning by Spanish tanker SS Castillo Alemenara and landed at Curaçao).

At 8.48 PM 550 miles South of the Cape Verde Islands, U-130 sinks British MV Danmark (all 38 crew and 8 gunners picked up by Norwegian MV Mosli).

At 10.30 PM 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, U-166 sinks US liner SS Robert E. Lee which is carrying survivors of torpedoed ships to the USA (10 crew and 15 passengers killed; 120 crew, 6 gunners and 253 passengers escape in 6 lifeboats, 8 rafts and 5 floats picked up by submarine chasers USS PC-566 and USS SC-519 plus tug Underwriter). USS PC 566 counterattacks with depth charges and sinks U-166 (all 52 hands lost), the only U-boat sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during WWII.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 1063 July 29, 1942

Kokoda track. At 2.30 AM, 200 Japanese troops attack the Kokoda airfield, using machineguns and a single 70mm Type 92 Battalion Gun light howitzer. The 77 Australian defenders mount a tenacious defense (7 Australians killed, 6 wounded; 12 Japanese killed, 26 wounded) but when Colonel Owen is killed, Papuan Infantry Battalion’s Major Watson orders a retreat to Deniki. Japanese do not pursue believing they face an Australian regiment (1200 troops); instead, they pause to bring up reinforcements to Kokoda. Another Japanese convoy brings in troops to Buna on the North coast of Papua from Rabaul, New Britain. At 2.45 PM, 8 US Douglas Dauntless dive bombers from Port Moresby escorted by P-39 fighters attack the unloading convoy, hitting Japanese troopship Kōtoku Maru with 1 bomb (troops disembark but no equipment can be offloaded).

Case Blue. German 1st Panzer Army captures Proletarsk and crosses Manych River, having advanced 68 miles South in 4 days since crossing the River Don on July 25. The flat, dry terrain between the Don and the Caucasus Mountains is ideal for rapid movement of the German tanks.

At 10.19 AM 100 miles Southeast of Trinidad, U-160 torpedoes Canadian SS Prescodoc sinks rapidly despite carrying only ballast (16 killed, 5 survivors picked up by Yugoslavian SS Predsednik Kopajtic and taken to Port of Spain). At 8 PM 400 miles East of Trinidad, U-155 sinks Norwegian SS Bill (Brazilian mess boy killed, Captain taken prisoner by the U-boat, 23 survivor escape in 3 lifeboats).

Overnight, 291 RAF bombers raid Saarbrücken, Germany, on the French border. Saarbrücken has little air defense and the bombers come in at low altitude (below 10,000 feet), causing severe damage to an ironworks and an engineering plant (396 buildings destroyed, 324 seriously damaged, 155 civilians killed). 3 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters and 2 Stirlings are lost.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 1062 July 28, 1942

At 00.40 AM 130 miles East of Tobago, U-66 sinks British MV Weirbank (1 killed, 56 crew and 10 gunners reach Tobago next day). 200 miles further East, U-155 sinks Brazilian SS Barbacena at 7.15 AM (6 killed, 56 survivors in 4 lifeboats) and Brazilian tanker SS Piave at 10.30 PM (Captain killed, 34 survivors).

At 8 AM 60 miles South of Halifax, Nova Scotia, U-754 surfaces and sinks US fishing boat MV Ebb with 50 rounds from the 88mm deck gun (5 killed, 12 survivors including 7 wounded picked up after 14 hours by British destroyer HMS Witherington and taken to Boston).

Case Blue. With the tanks of German Army Group A spreading rapidly South into the Caucasus and Paulus’ 6th Army making progress (slowly) towards Stalingrad, Stalin issues Order No. 227 ("Not a step back!" Russian: Ni Shagu Nazad!) instructing unit commanders to create penal battalions and "blocking detachments" to detain or shoot deserters.

Kokoda track. At noon, Australian Colonel Owen takes 77 troops to hold the Kokoda airfield, leaving 40 at Deniki. 2 Douglas transport aircraft circle the airfield carrying 39th Battalion reinforcements but return to Port Moresby without landing, fearing Japanese infiltration of the airfield.

In the Coral Sea, Japanese submarine I-175 torpedoes French SS Cagou which left Sydney, Australia, for Nouméa, New Caledonia, 5 days ago.

Overnight, 256 RAF bombers (161 Wellingtons, 71 Stirlings and 24 Whitleys) take off to raid Hamburg, Germany. 91 bombers are recalled due to bad weather and many others get separated and turn back. Only 68 bomb Hamburg (13 civilians killed, 48 injured). RAF losses are heavy (20 Wellingtons, 1 Whitley and 9 Stirlings, including at least 5 which are return without reaching the target).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 1061 July 27, 1942

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. 8th Army infantry units capture their objectives overnight, but British 2nd Armoured Brigade and 4th Light Armoured Brigade fail to support. Rommel immediately counterattacks at daybreak, overrunning British 69th Brigade at Deir el Dhib (600 casualties) and Australian 2/28th AIF battalion on Ruin Ridge (400 casualties). 50th Royal Tank Regiment gets stuck in a minefield and loses 13 tanks. With this, the piecemeal British offensives run out of steam and both sides go on the defensive for the time being. Since July 1, Allies have lost 13,250 killed, missing and wounded. German and Italian losses are about the same, with 7000 taken POW by the Allies.

In the morning, a single Luftwaffe bomber flies at rooftop level and bombs Palmerston Street, Hillkirk Street and Russell Street in Manchester, England (3 civilians killed, 7 seriously injured).

Kokoda track. Australian and Papuan survivors from the battle at Oivi (now commanded by Major William Watson) retreat 10 miles back to Deniki, along a creek bed to avoid Japanese troops on the Kokoda track, bypassing the Kokoda airfield. At Deniki, they meet up with Lieutenant Colonel William Owen and 39th Battalion 'B' Company. Owen decides to move forward to hold onto the Kokoda airfield, despite knowing he is greatly outnumbered.

South Atlantic. At 8.47 AM 820 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-582 sinks American SS Stella Lykes (1 killed, Captain and Chief Engineer taken prisoner, 49 survivors in a lifeboat reach Cacheu, Portuguese Guinea, 750 miles East on August 8). At 2.14 PM 450 miles Southwest of Freetown, U-752 torpedoes Norwegian SS Leikanger which sinks quickly on the cargo of 1000 tons of chrome ore (17 crew and 1 British gunner killed, 12 crew and 1 gunner float on rafts and debris for 4 days until picked up by American SS Harry Luckenbach). At 5.40 PM 670 miles West of Freetown, U-130 sinks British SS Elmwood (all 44 crew, 6 gunners and 1 RAF passenger survive).

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombers raid Birmingham, England.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 1060 July 26, 1942

North Atlantic. Between 7.57 and 8.11 AM 475 miles East of St. John’s, Newfoundland, U-607 and U-704 both torpedo British MV Empire Rainbow in convoy ON-113 which sinks (all 39 crew and 8 gunners picked up by British destroyer HMS Burnham and Canadian corvette HMCS Dauphin). At 8.15 AM 12 miles East of Tobago, U-66 sinks Brazilian SS Tamandaré (4 killed, 48 survivors in 2 lifeboats spotted by an aircraft and picked up by US patrol boat PC-492).

At 9.45 AM in the Gulf of Mexico off Corpus Christi, Texas, U-171 sinks Mexican SS Oaxaca (6 killed, 39 survivors).

Kokoda track. At 3 PM, Japanese attack 145 troops (Papuan Infantry Battalion and Australian 39th Battalion) holding the track at Oivi. Australians have a tactical advantage of an airfield at Kokoda 12 miles inland to fly in reinforcements but they manage to land only 2 transports during the day bringing in 32 additional troops (and only half of those reach Oivi). At 5 PM, Captain Templeton heads back to Kokoda to find the other reinforcements but he is captured by Japanese who have outflanked his position. Templeton will be interrogated (convincing his captors that there are 10,000 Australian troops defending Port Moresby) and then executed next day with a sword thrust in his stomach. The remaining troops at Oivi sneak out of the trap overnight, heading South into the jungle. Meanwhile, Japanese convoy arrives from Rabaul, New Britain, bringing another 1020 troops and 200 porters.

Case Blue. German Army Group A fans out rapidly into the Caucasus, South of the River Don (while 1st Panzer Army attacks Southeast, 17th Army heads Southwest to secure the Black Sea coast and join up with Manstein’s 11th Army arriving from the Crimea across the Kerch peninsula). German 6th Army breaks through Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies to reach the Don just West of Stalingrad.

El Alamein. Overnight, British 8th Army launches another attack on Miteirya (Operation Manhood). Again, Auchinleck expects infantry to make surprise attacks and mark minefields in the dark to allow tanks to rush through in the morning. British, South African and New Zealand infantry take most of their objectives.

Overnight, RAF sends 403 bombers (181 Wellingtons, 77 Lancasters, 73 Halifaxes, 39 Stirlings, 33 Hampdens) to Hamburg, Germany (5000 houses damaged, 823 destroyed; 337 civilians killed, 1027 injured, 14,000 made homeless). 15 Wellingtons, 8 Halifaxes, 2 Hampdens, 2 Lancasters & 2 Stirlings are lost.

Day 1059 July 25, 1942

At 1.44 AM 75 miles Southeast of Trinidad, U-160 torpedoes Dutch SS Telamon which sinks in 3 minutes (23 killed, 14 survivors picked a few hours later by British SS Canadoc).

North Atlantic. At 3.52 AM 580 miles East of St. John’s Newfoundland, U-552 attacks convoy ON-113 damaging British tanker MV British Meriton on her maiden voyage (1 killed, 32 crew in 2 lifeboats rescued by Canadian corvette HMCS Brandon) and British SS Broompark (4 crew killed, 38 crew and 7 gunners taken off by HMCS Brandon). SS Broompark is taken in tow by tug USS Cherokee, but sinks 3 days later only 40 miles from St. Johns. At 9.55 AM 75 miles South of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, U-89 sinks Canadian fishing boat MV Lucille M. with 20 incendiary and 15 high-explosive rounds from the deck gun (all 11 crew escape in a lifeboat and reach Nova Scotia).

Case Blue. German troops and tanks begin crossing the River Don in force at several points up to 100 miles East of Rostov, as Soviets pull back South of the Don. However, in contrast to Hitler’s notion that Stalingrad can be easily taken, 6th Army makes no progress in the face of stiffening resistance West of the “Don Bend” from Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies.

US B-17 bombers attack Tobruk, Libya, denying Rommel use of the port to supply his offensive at El Alamein, Egypt.

South Atlantic. At 4.53 PM 900 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-130 sinks Norwegian tanker MV Tankexpress (all 39 crew in 3 lifeboats rescued 250 miles from Freetown a week later on August 1 by British destroyer HMS Lightning). At 11.05 PM 185 miles Southwest of Freetown, U-201 sinks British minesweeping trawler HMS Laertes (19 killed).

South Pacific. Invasion of Papua. After 2 ambushes in 2 days, Japanese overestimate the Australian forces defending the Kokoda track, over the Owen Stanley mountains to Port Moresby. They halt their advance and reorganize to face this unexpected resistance. At 11.30 PM 74 miles Southwest of Nouméa, New Caledonia, Japanese submarine I-169 sinks Dutch passenger/cargo liner MV Tjinegara (carrying 477 horses, road grading equipment and 2000 cases of beer for US Army from Brisbane, Australia, to Nouméa). All 24 crew and 12 gunners are picked up 18 hours later by US Destroyer USS Worden but the horses all drown.

Overnight, Luftwaffe bombers attack Middlesbrough, Northeast England, badly damaging shops and the Leeds Hotel in the city centre.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 1058 July 24, 1942

Invasion of Papua. At Gorari Creek (in the coastal plain on the Kokoda track), Australian 39th Battalion Company B, under Captain Sam Templeton, ambushes 500 Japanese troops with 2 Lewis machineguns (15 Japanese killed). Templeton (whose instructions to his hopelessly outnumbered troops are “Your action should be contact and rearguard only - no do or die stunts”) then pulls back 2 miles to higher ground at Oivi.

Around the Northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido and the nearby Southern Kuril Islands, US submarine USS Narwhal sinks Japanese guard boat Shinsei Maru No.83 and tiny Japanese merchant ships Nissho Maru and Kofuji Maru. All these ships are sunk with the deck gun.

Case Blue. German troops overrun Rostov-on-Don, which has not been contested by the Red Army, forcing several more crossings over the River Don. SS Wiking motorised infantry Division (consisting of volunteers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands and Belgium commanded by German officers) captures the airfield and 125th Infantry Division advances into the city centre.

In the North Atlantic 560 miles East of St. John’s Newfoundland, Canadian destroyer HMCS St. Croix sinks U-90 (which departed Kiel, Germany, on June 30 on the first patrol) with depth charges (all 44 hands lost).

At 6.17 PM 30 miles East of Cape Greco, Cyprus, U-77 sinks Syrian sailboat Toufic El Rahman with 25 rounds after the crew abandons ship.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 1057 July 23, 1942

Case Blue. German 13th and 22nd Panzer and Czechoslovakian Mobile Slovak Divisions break through the defensive belts into the center of Rostov-on-Don, capturing the Kommolomny Bridge over the River Don. Hitler, simultaneously flushed with the ease of success at Rostov and frustrated by the slow progress in general, issues Führer Directive No. 45 completely changing objectives for most German forces. Lack of Soviet resistance at Rostov persuades Hitler that Paulus’s 6th Army can take Stalingrad alone (Operation Fischreiher), so 4th Panzer Army (which is North of 6th Army) is redirected South to join Army Group A. This causes chaos as 4th Panzer crosses through the infantry of 6th Army, leaving their already stretched supplies lines inextricably tangled. Army Group A (1st and 4th Panzer Armies, 17th Army and soon to be joined by Manstein’s 11th Army from the Crimea) is given the increased task of capturing essentially the entire Caucasus (Operation Edelweiss).

Invasion of Papua. Japanese advance 20 miles inland from the landing sites at Buna and Gona, across the coastal plain along the Kokoda Track. At Awala, they run into an advance guard of Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB), who withdraw across the Kumusi River destroying the footbridge. Japanese drive off PIB with mortars and machinegun fire to cross the river. PIB pulls back a few miles to where Australia 39th Battalion Company B, under Captain Sam Templeton, is preparing an ambush. This is the first clash on the Kokoda track.

200 miles Southwest of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-752 sinks British SS Garmula carrying 6009 tons of grain from Australia to Britain (21 killed, 67 survivors picked up by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Pict).

At 10.22 PM 5 miles North of Cayo Guillermo, Cuba, U-129 sinks American SS Onondaga (19 crew and 1 passenger killed, 14 survivors picked up by Cuban fishing boat Laventina next morning).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 1056 July 22, 1942

There is fighting all along the El Alamein front, Egypt. British 2nd and 23rd Armoured Brigades fail to arrive to reinforce New Zealand 6th Brigade in the El Mreir depression. At dawn, 5th and 8th Panzer Regiments attack overrun the New Zealand infantry (900 casualties). At 8 AM, 23rd Armoured Brigade rumbles forward, straight into a minefield where they are obliterated by heavy German artillery and anti-tank fire (40 tanks destroyed, 47 badly damaged). On the coast, Australian 26th Battalion captures Tel el Eisa ridge (Australia Private Arthur Gurney wins the Victoria Cross for bayonet charges on 3 German machine gun posts that have pinned down his Company and caused many casualties). In the evening, Australian 24th Brigade and tanks of 50th Royal Tank Regiment attack towards Ruin Ridge, 50th RTR loses 23 tanks due to poor coordination with the infantry.

U-77 begins an unusual patrol targeting sailing vessels with the deck gun but not torpedoes, a week after leaving base from the Greek island of Salamis (near Athens). At 4.53 AM, U-77 sinks Greek sailboat Vassiliki (carrying 3580 barrels of oil from Beirut, Lebanon, to Famagusta, Cyprus) with 10 rounds after the crew abandoned ship (they reach Famagusta safely).

At 5.30 AM 5 miles off the East coast of Australia 185 miles South of Sydney, Japanese submarine I-11 torpedoes American "Liberty" ship SS William Dawes carrying a full load of jeeps, trucks, ambulances and explosives. SS William Dawes burns all day and eventually sinks at 4.30 PM (5 killed, survivors in lifeboats rescued by local fishing trawlers).

Invasion of Papua. US 5th Air Force bombers attack Japanese warships off Buna and Gona, damaging transport ship Ayatosan Maru. Destroyer Uzuki is strafed (16 killed). A reconnaissance platoon from Papuan Infantry Battalion (native Papuans and other tribesmen commanded by Australian Lieutenant John Chalk) spots Japanese at Gona. Chalk sends a runner back to the Battalion's commanding officer who replies with a note "You will engage the enemy." Overnight, Chalk’s platoon (40 men with bolt-action .303 Lee-Enfield rifles and 1 Thompson submachinegun) ambush Japanese soldiers moving inland along the road and then quickly withdraw.

American and Japanese diplomatic staffs, stranded in combatant countries by the start of hostilities in December 1941, are repatriated and exchanged at Lourenço Marques, Portuguese East Africa (now Maputo, Mozambique). Japanese liner Asama Maru arrives with 800 American and other foreigners from Japan, Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Italian vessel Conte Verde carries 600 passengers from Shanghai. Swedish liner MV Gripsholm arrives with 1,096 Japanese nationals from New York, USA, and Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Case Blue. German 6th Army reaches the great bend in the Don River (“Don Bend”) near Stalingrad, defended by Soviet Stalingrad Front. At Rostov-on-Don, German 198th Infantry Division, 14th and 22nd Panzer Divisions and Czechoslovakian Mobile Slovak Division attack from North of the city.

At 1.35 PM in the Caribbean 100 miles East of Nicaragua, U-505 sinks Colombian sailboat Urious with 22 rounds from the deck gun (13 killed).

At 8.12 PM 500 miles West of Freetown, Sierra Leone, U-582 sinks American SS Honolulan carrying 8350 tons of manganese ore and jute from Bombay, India, to Baltimore, USA (all 39 crew in 3 lifeboats picked up 6 days later by British MV Winchester Castle and landed in New York).

Day 1055 July 21, 1942

At 9.07 AM 40 miles Southwest of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, U-84 badly damages US Liberty ship SS William Cullen Bryant. All 40 crew, 12 gunners and 2 Navy signalmen abandon ship, but reboard 2 hours later and are towed to Key West by tugs Moran and USS Willet. SS William Cullen Bryant will be repaired New York and return to service in March 1944. At 10.29 AM 5 miles North of Matelot Point, Trinidad, U-160 torpedoes British MV Donovania (3 crew and 2 gunners killed) which settles in shallow water. 43 crew and 2 gunners are picked up by British motor torpedo boats and US destroyer USS Livermore and landed at Port of Spain.

Operation Insect. British aircraft carrier HMS Eagle flies off 29 Spitfires. 28 Spitfires arrive at Malta but 1 has a leaky fuel tank and ditches in the Mediterranean.

Case Blue. German 1st Panzer Army and 17th Army converge from the West, North and East on Rostov-on-Don, near the Black Sea coast. The city is surounded by 3 defensive belts (bunkers, anti tank ditches and wire entanglements) 40km in depth. German 73rd and 298th Infantry Divisions, supported by the 13th Panzer Division, advance from the West along the road from Taganrog into the first belt.

Invasion of Papua. At 2.40 PM, 3000 Japanese soldiers land at Buna and Gona on the sparsely inhabited North coast of Papua. Japanese troops move inland to prepare roads and supply lines, with 1000 native Tolai labourers brought from Rabaul, to prepare for an overland offensive over the Owen Stanley Mountains to Port Moresby on the South coast.

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. At 4.30 PM, New Zealand 6th Brigade attack from South of Ruweisat Ridge into the El Mreir depression and hold these positions overnight. British 2nd and 23rd Armoured Brigades are scheduled to join them at daybreak.

Overnight, 15 miles off the East coast of Australia 90 miles South of Sydney, Japanese submarine I-11 sinks American SS Coast Farmer, carrying asphalt, tin plate, wood and general Army stores from Sydney to Melbourne (1 crewman killed, 33 crew and 7 US Navy gunners rescued next morning by an RAAF Crash Boat).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 1054 July 20, 1942

Egypt. With Rommel unable to break through Allied defenses at El Alamein, Mussolini returns to Italy. He has waited 21 days in vain to lead a victory parade into Cairo. In the Mediterranean, British aircraft carrier HMS Eagle leaves Gibraltar carrying 31 Spitfires fighters and 4 Swordfish torpedo bombers for Malta (Operation Insect).

Invasion of Papua. 3 transport ships carrying Japanese 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Forces and Yokoyama Detachment (17th Army) depart Rabaul, New Britain (escorted by cruisers Tenryū and Tatsuta, destroyers Asanagi, Yūzuki and Uzuki and a minelayer) for landings on the North coast of Papua. 40 Japanese aircraft raid Port Moresby on the South coast.

In the Indian Ocean, 1950 miles West of Australia, German armed merchant cruiser Thor attacks British MV Indus, sailing from Colombo, Ceylon, to Freemantle, Australia. MV Indus attempts to outrun the raider and returns fire but is set on fire by accurate shelling from Thor (22 killed, 49 survivors rescued from the water). 15 miles off the East coast of Australia 75 miles South of Sydney, Japanese submarine I-11 sinks Greek steamer G.S. Livanos, carrying 87 Australian Army motor vehicles.

At 6.39 PM in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, U-132 attacks convoy QS-19 near Anticosti Island. British SS Frederika Lensen is badly damaged (4 killed), is towed by Canadian corvette HMCS Weyburn and beached, but declared a total loss.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 1053 July 19, 1942

North Atlantic. At 2.30 AM 200 miles North of the Azores, U-564 attacks convoy OS-34 sinking British MV Lavington Court (7 killed, 41 survivors rescued by British sloop HMS Wellington) and Empire Hawksbill (all 47 hands lost), both carrying military supplies from Britain to the Middle East. At 4.55 PM 675 miles South of Newfoundland, U-332 sinks Greek SS Leonidas M. with the deck gun and a torpedo (all 31 crew survive but 2 are taken prisoner by the U-boat).

Gulf of Mexico. Off the Florida Keys, U-84 sinks Honduran SS Baja California (3 killed, 34 survivors picked up next day by Cuban fishing schooner San Ignacio) and U-129 sinks Norwegian SS Port Antonio (13 killed, 11 survivors in 1 lifeboat reach Cuba 2 days later including Jørgen Edvard Magnussen who previously been sunk on SS Cadmus 18 days ago by the same U-boat).

Kriegsmarine Admiral Dönitz recognizes the success of Allied warships defending convoys on the US East coast and withdraws the last 2 U-boats from the area. U-boat operations in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico continue.

Egypt. There is a lull in ground fighting at El Alamein but US bombers continue their attacks on Tobruk and Benghazi, while British cruisers HMS Dido and HMS Euryalus plus 4 destroyers bombard Mersa Matruh. Off Port Said, German torpedo bombers hit British convoy escort vessel SS Maline (beached but a total loss).

Case Blue. Stalin realizes that the German advance is likely to reach the city on the Volga bearing his name, Stalingrad. He orders Stalingrad Defense Committee to prepare the city for war.

Overnight, RAF sends 99 bombers (40 Halifaxes, 31 Stirlings & 28 Lancasters) to raid the Vulkan U-boat yard at Vegesack on the River Weser 30 miles inland from the German North Sea coast. Due to cloud cover, most bombs fall on Bremen 10 miles up river (3 Halifaxes lost).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 1052 July 18, 1942

At an air base at Leipheim in Southern Germany, Luftwaffe test pilot Fritz Wendel makes the first flight in the Me 262 V3 (third prototype) powered by solely by Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engines, without a supporting conventional propeller engine.

At 6.25 AM 50 miles East of Trinidad, U-575 hits British tanker SS San Gaspar with 2 torpedoes (12 killed, 40 survivors) but British rescue tug HMS Roode Zee tows SS San Gaspar into Port of Spain for temporary repairs (towed to Mobile, Alabama, in December and returned to service in October 1943). Later in the day 100 miles further East, U-575 sinks 2 tiny British sailing schooners Glacier and Comrade with the deck gun. At 4.33 PM 10 miles North of Trinidad, U-160 sinks Panamanian SS Carmona (4 dead, 31 survivors in 2 lifeboats picked up by US patrol boat USS YPC-68).

Case Blue. 1st Panzer Army captures Voroshilovgrad (now Luhansk).

At port in Nikolayevsk (in the mouth of the Amur River on the Pacific coast of USSR), Soviet submarine SCh-138 is destroyed by an explosion in the torpedo compartment (17 killed), which also damages neighbouring submarine SC-118.

German supply ship Regensburg (servicing armed merchant cruisers in the Indian Ocean) arrives at Yokohama near Tokyo, Japan, carrying prisoners from ships sunk by Thor and other raiders. Mail bags taken from Australian liner Nankin, sunk by Thor on May 10, are found to contain a top secret report from the Combined Operations Centre at Wellington, New Zealand, to the C-in-C British Eastern Fleet in Colombo, Ceylon, showing the Allies knew about the planned Japanese attack on Midway. This implies that the Japanese Navy code JN25 has been broken, leading to a change in codes that will not be deciphered until late 1943.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 1051 July 17, 1942

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. Overnight, Australian 24th Brigade and British 44th Royal Tank Regiment, supported RAF fighters, attack Miteirya Ridge (known by the Aussies as "Ruin Ridge") midway between Tel el Eisa and Ruweisat. They overrun parts Italian Trento and Trieste Divisions (736 Italians taken POW) but are repelled later in the day by German Panzers and Italian Trento Division (300 Australian casualties).

In the morning 1000 miles West of Angola, German armed merchant cruiser Michel catches up with Norwegian tanker MV Aramis (damaged yesterday by Michel’s speedboat Esau) and shadows all day. Michel sinks MV Aramis at nightfall with a torpedo and 6-inch shellfire (20 killed, 23 taken prisoner by Michel). Michel leaves the area having sunk 3 ships in 3 days, sailing West to rendezvous near Trinidad with another armed merchant cruiser, Stier.

In the Bay of Biscay 225 miles Northwest of Corruna, Spain, 2 British bombers (1 Whitley and 1 Lancaster) spot U-751 which left base at St. Nazaire 4 days ago. The bombers drop depth charges sinking U-751 (all 48 hands lost).

Case Blue. German advance slows due to fuel shortages, so Luftwaffe Ju52 transport aircraft fly in supplies including 200 tons of fuel per day. Despite these logistical problems, 1st Panzer Army approaches Voroshilovgrad (now Luhansk) only 90 miles from Rostov-on-Don. Frustrated by the delays in capturing Voronezh (which held up 4th Panzer Army for several days) and the pace of the advance, Hitler moves his headquarters from the Wolfsschanze in Rastenburg in East Prussia (now Poland) 450 miles Southeast to Vinnytsya in the Ukraine. Although this is another 500 miles from the front line (and 730 miles from Stalingrad), Hitler plans to oversee the offensive in person.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 1050 July 16, 1942

French Vichy government collaborates with the German Gestapo to send French Jews to concentration camps for extermination. Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in Paris starts at 4 AM and lasts 2 days; 13,152 Jews (3299 men, 5802 women and 4,051 children) are arrested and held at the Vélodrome d'hiver and the Drancy internment camp (unfinished apartment blocks). Most will be sent to Auschwitz (along with 29,000 other French Jews in 1942) but only 811 survive to the end of the war.

British 8th Army commander General Auchinleck wages a battle of attrition at El Alamein, Egypt, secure in the knowledge that he has a steadier supply of troops and equipment (including the new M4 Sherman tanks from America) than his adversary Rommel. At Tel el Eisa ridge, Australian 24th Battalion takes 50% casualties trying to retake ground lost over the last 2 days. Further South, German Panzers attack all along Ruweisat Ridge but are held off by anti-tank guns and artillery of Indian 5th Infantry Brigade and British 2nd & 22nd Armoured Brigades (Germans lose 24 tanks plus armoured cars and anti-tank guns)

In the morning, German armed merchant cruiser Michel spots 2 tankers 1000 miles West of Angola and shadows them all day. At 9 PM, Michel closes quickly and attacks without warning, sinking American tanker SS William F. Humphrey with 60 6-inch shells, anti-aircraft guns, machinegunfire and 3 torpedoes (8 killed, 29 survivors in 2 lifeboats taken prisoner by Michel, 11 survivors escape capture and sail 450 miles in 5 days in a lifeboat until picked up by Norwegian freighter Triton). Simultaneously, Michel’s speedboat Esau hits the other tanker with 2 torpedoes but Norwegian MV Aramis is able to continue. Michel follows.

About 9 AM 30 miles Northeast of Havana, Cuba, U-166 stops 3 American men in a tiny fishing boat (carrying 20 tons of onions from Florida to Havana). The crew heads for the Florida Keys in a 14-foot motorboat which runs out of fuel while U-166 sinks MV Gertrude with gunfire. The 3 men drift for 3 days before being spotted by the Civil Air Patrol 3 miles South of the Keys.

At 9.34 AM 10 miles Northwest of Trinidad, U-160 torpedoes Panamanian tanker SS Beaconlight (1 killed, 38 crew and 2 British gunners in 3 lifeboats rescued 6 hours later by passenger ship SS Trinidad and landed at Port of Spain). The wreck is sunk by British rescue tug HMS Roode Zee.

At 3.43 PM 200 miles South of Bermuda, U-161 attacks convoy AS-4 carrying supplies to British 8th Army in Egypt from New York, sinking American SS Fairport (with 8000 tons of war materiel, including Sherman tanks on deck). All 43 crew, 14 gunners and 66 US Army personnel are picked up by convoy escort US destroyer USS Kearny.

Black Sea. Luftwaffe bombs the Caucasus port of Poti, badly damaging Soviet destroyer Bodry and destroying the minelaying cruiser Komintern (which is already under repair from German bomb damage at Novorossisk on July 2). Komintern’s guns will be removed over the next 2 months and used for coastal defense, while Komintern will be sunk as a blockship in October.

2 miles off the coast of French Indochina, 70 miles North of Cam Ranh Bay, US submarine USS Seadragon sinks Japanese transport ship Hakodate Maru (3rd sinking in 4 days) and returns to base at Freemantle, Australia, 3000 miles South.

21 RAF Stirling bombers raid Lübeck, Germany, at dusk, approaching under cloud cover. Only 8 Stirlings find the target and 2 do not return.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 1049 July 15, 1942

In the last act of the dispersed convoy OS-33, U-582 sinks British SS Empire Attendant (all 50 crew and 9 gunners lost) at 3.30 AM 433 miles Southwest of Tenerife, Canary Islands. U-201, which was involved in the attack on convoy OS-33, sinks British SS British Yeoman in the same area at 1.46 AM (43 killed, 10 survivors picked up by Spanish tanker SS Castillo Almenara and landed in Cape Verde Islands).

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. By dawn, 4th and 5th New Zealand Brigades capture the Western end of Ruweisat Ridge but British 22nd Armoured Brigade does not arrive as planned. Lacking tank support or effective anti-tank defenses, the New Zealanders are assailed by waves of German tanks and finally overrun at 6 PM (730 taken POW). During the fighting, New Zealand Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham wins a bar to his Victoria Cross (the only double VC of WWII and the only combat soldier ever to win 2 VCs). Upham is wounded twice and captured by the Germans. At the Eastern end of Ruweisat Ridge, Indian 5th Infantry Brigade takes it’s objectives by mid-afternoon with the help of British 2nd Armoured Brigade. British 2nd Armoured Brigade then moves West along Ruweisat Ridge, arriving at the New Zealand positions at 6.15 PM and pushing the Panzers off the Ridge for the night.

Operation Pinpoint. British aircraft carrier HMS Eagle flies off 32 Spitfires to Malta. 1 Spitfire is lost en route.

At 7.49 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 125 miles West of Key West, Florida, U-571 torpedoes US tanker MV Pennsylvania Sun (2 killed). The cargo of 107,500 barrels of Navy fuel oil ignites forcing 42 crewmen and 17 armed guards to abandon ship in 3 lifeboats (picked up by US destroyer USS Dahlgren) but MV Pennsylvania Sun does not sink and is reboarded next day. The fires are extinguished and MV Pennsylvania Sun will reach Chester, Pennsylvania, under own power for repairs and return to service (ironically sold to Germany in 1955).

US submarine USS Grunion, on her first patrol, attacks Japanese anchorage at Kiska Island in the Aleutians. USS Grunion sinks Japanese submarine chasers Ch-25 (all 68 hands lost) and Ch-27 (all 68 hands lost) and damages Ch-26.

At 8.25 PM 75 miles East of Cape Fear, North Carolina, U-576 fires 4 torpedoes at convoy KS-520, sinking Nicaraguan MV Bluefields and damaging American SS Chilore, and Panamanian MV J.A. Mowinckel (both damaged ships head for shore and hit mines in a US defensive minefield). U-576 surfaces and is sunk by depth charges from 2 US Kingfisher aircraft and gunfire from US auxilliary USS Unicoi (all 45 hands lost).

At dusk in the South Atlantic 1225 miles West of Angola, German armed merchant cruiser Michel spots blacked-out British passenger/cargo ship SS Gloucester Castle (carrying aircraft, military equipment and petrol in drums on deck, plus 8 women and children as passengers). Michel's Captain, Helmuth von Ruckteschell (whose devastating attack in overwhelming force without warning will lead to a 10-year jail term as a War Crminal) decides to close fast and attack. At 7 PM, Michel begins raining down 6-inch shells on SS Gloucester Castle, which bursts into flames due to the petrol on deck and then rolls over and sinks in 8 minutes (85 crew, 6 women and 2 children passengers killed). 57 crew, 2 women and 2 boys aged 10 and 14 are picked up by Michel and interned at Singapore or Yokohama, Japan (2 will die in captivity).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 1048 July 14, 1942

Soviet submarine ShCh-317 is attacked by German patrol boats while crossing "Nashorn" minefield in the Baltic Sea. Finnish minelayer Ruotsinsalmi and patrol boat VMV-6 follow the oil slick from ShCh-317 and sink the damaged submarine with depth charges (all 38 hands lost).

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer and 6th Armies make good progress South down the “Donets corridor” between the Donets River and the Don River. Soviet Southwest and Southern Fronts fall back ahead of the Germans, avoiding costly encirclement battles. Only 90,000 Soviet POWs have been captured since the start of the offensive 17 days ago, disappointing Hitler who hoped to eliminate the Soviet Armies blocking the path to the Caucasus oilfields.

At 8 PM 180 miles South of the Alaska Peninsula, Japanese submarine I-7 shells American SS Arcata en route from Bethel, Alaska to Seattle, Washington through the Unimak Pass. 29 crew, 3 US Navy passengers and a civilian passenger abandon ship in 1 lifeboat and 4 rafts, but are then machinegunned by I-7 (1 killed). SS Arcata sinks at 5 AM next morning. One raft with 11 survivors will be picked up on 17 July by US destroyer USS Kane & 13 survivors in the lifeboat will be picked up on 22 July by a fishing boat but 8 crew are never found.

At 10.30 PM, Italian submarine Calvi and U-130 attack Allied convoy SL 115 (from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to Britain) 575 miles West of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Calvi is detected by British sloop HMS Lulworth (United States Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Chelan on loan to the Royal Navy). Calvi dives but is forced to surface by depth charges from HMS Lulworth which then rakes Calvi with shells and machinegun fire (42 killed). The crew abandons ship and scuttles Calvi, just as HMS Lulworth’s boarding party arrives (1 British sailor is trapped on the submarine and drowns). HMS Lulworth is chased away by torpedoes from U-130 but returns after 3 hours to rescue 35 Calvi survivors.

Operation Pinpoint. British aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, cruisers HMS Cairo and HMS Charybdis and 5 destroyers leave Gibraltar to deliver 32 Spitfires to Malta.

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. With Australians on Tel el Eisa ridge holding German 21st Panzer Division near the coast, British General Auchinleck plans to trap Italian Pavia and Brescia Divisions further South on Ruweisat Ridge (in the middle of the El Alamein front). At 11 PM, 4th and 5th New Zealand Brigades attack the Western end of the Ridge while Indian 5th Infantry Brigade attacks the Eastern end.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 1047 July 13, 1942

In the last act of convoy PQ-17, U-255 finds the floating wreck of Dutch SS Paulus Potter, bombed and abandoned on July 5. A boarding party cannot salvage SS Paulus Potter which is sunk by U-255.

12 Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS frogmen leave a rented house in Algeciras, Spain, and swim 4 miles across the bay. They plant limpet mines on British merchant ships in Gibraltar Harbour and return safely. SS Meta, SS Shuma and SS Baron Dougla are sunk while SS Empire Snipe is damaged (out of service until October).

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. 21st Panzer Division mounts another attack on Australian positions on Tel el Eisa ridge and also against 1st South African Division in the El Alamein “box”. Again, they take heavy casualties and are repulsed by Allied anti-tank guns and artillery.

In the Atlantic 490 miles West of Tenerife, Canary Islands, U-201 sinks British SS Sithonia from dispersed convoy OS-33 (7 killed, 21 crew land at Timiris, Senegal, after 18 days and are interned by the Vichy French, 25 crew picked up by a Spanish fishing vessel 14 days later having sailed 800 miles).

Caribbean. US aircraft USN PC-458 locates U-153 100 miles West of Colón, Panama, and calls in destroyer USS Lansdowne which sinks U-153 with depth charges (all 52 hands lost). 20 miles North of Cardenas Light, Cuba, U-84 sinks American SS Andrew Jackson (3 killed, 46 survivors in 3 lifeboats reach Cuba 12 hours later). 2 miles East of Cuba, U-166 sinks American SS Oneida (6 killed, 23 survivors reach Cuba).

In the Gulf of Mexico 80 miles off the coast of Mississippi, U-67 torpedoes US tanker R.W. Gallagher igniting the 80,855 barrels of Bunker C fuel oil (10 killed, 42 survivors picked up 1 hour later by US Coast Guard cutter USS Boutwell).

Off Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, US submarine USS Seadragon sinks Japanese transport ship Shinyo Maru.

Overnight, 194 RAF bombers (139 Wellingtons, 33 Halifaxes, 13 Lancasters, 9 Stirlings) raid Duisburg, Germany. The bombing misses the industrial area due to cloud and electrical storms (11 houses destroyed, 17 civilians killed). 3 Wellingtons, 2 Stirlings & 1 Lancaster are lost.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 1046 July 12, 1942

Siege of Leningrad Day 308. On the Volkhov River, Soviet General Andrey Vlasov, commander of the recently-annihilated 2nd Shock Army, is turned over to the Germans by a farmer after hiding in German-held territory for 10 days. Vlasov will defect to his captors and in 1944-45 command Russian units in the German army, known as the Russian Liberation Army (Russian: Russkaya osvoboditel'naya armiya).

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. 21st Panzer Division sends German 104th Infantry Regiment (newly-arrived from Crete, without desert training) to counterattack Australian positions on Tel el Eisa ridge. For 3 hours, A company 2/2 Australian machinegun battalion (26th Brigade) holds off the attacking infantry with 4 Vickers machineguns. 104th Infantry Regiment takes 50% casualties (600 dead and wounded).

Mediterranean. Italian submarine Alagi sinks Turkish vessel Antares. In the Gulf of Orosei 2 miles off the East coast of Sardinia, British submarine HMS Safari sinks Italian sailing ship Adda.

41 merchant ships in convoy OS-33 left Liverpool on July 1, separating yesterday into columns heading for Sierra Leone (with escort warships), South Africa and South America (without escorts). U-116, U-201, U-572, U-582 & U-752 (wolfpack Hai or “shark”) attack the unescorted ships. U-116, U-201 & U-582 sink 4 British freighters, while U-752 does not find any targets. U-572 makes no attempt to engage the convoy and her captain, Kptlt. Heinz Hirsacker, will be found guilty at court-martial for “cowardice in the presence of the enemy”.

In the Caribbean 50 miles Southwest of Grand Cayman, U-129 sinks American SS Tachirá (5 dead, 33 survivors drift for 300 miles West 4 days and reach Cancun, Mexico).

Off Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, US submarine USS Seadragon sinks Japanese transport ship Himaya Maru.

In the Mozambique Channel, Japan’s only 2 armed merchant cruisers Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru (Osaka Shipping Line passenger-cargo vessels converted in 1940) sink New Zealand freighter Hauraki. The armed merchant cruisers also provide supplies to the Japanese submarines operating against Allied shipping in the area.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 1045 July 11, 1942

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. At dawn, Australian 26th Brigade pushes forward along Tel el Eisa ridge, displaces the remaining Italian troops and overruns German Signals Intercept Company 621 (up to now providing Rommel with priceless intelligence from Allied radio communications). Another column of tanks and motorised infantry raids South towards Miteirya ridge, overrunning an Italian battalion infantry, before returning to the El Alamein “box” in the evening. In all, 1000 Italian prisoners are taken.

In the Mediterranean 60 miles off Beirut, Lebanon, South African Naval Forces armed whalers HMSAS Protea and HMSAS Southern Maid plus a land-based Fleet Air Arm Walrus flying boat (700 Naval Air Squadron) combine to sink Italian submarine Ondina with depth charges.

North Atlantic. At 3.52 AM 50 miles Northeast of Trinidad, U-203 sinks Panamanian tanker SS Stanvac Palembang (5 dead, 45 survivors in 3 lifeboats picked up by US submarine chaser USS PC-8 next day and landed at Port of Spain). 325 miles West of the Portuguese island of Madeira, U-136 is shadowing Convoy OS-33 with U-116, U-201 and U-582. U-136 is detected by Free French destroyer Léopard, British frigate HMS Spey and sloop HMS Pelican and destroyed in 4 depth charge attacks (all 45 hands lost). At 7 PM 8 miles off the Dominican Republic, U-166 sinks unarmed Dominican schooner Carmen with the deck gun (1 killed, 7 survivors reach the coast in a lifeboat).

Convoy PQ 17. Most of the surviving ships arrive in Soviet ports with 64,000 tons of lend-lease supplies. The convoy has lost 24 ships with 116,000 tons of war materiel including 430 tanks, 210 aircraft and 3350 other vehicles. Soviets are disappointed at the amount of materiel received and refuse to believe that the convoy has been scattered and mostly sunk. Stalin will later accuse Britain of lying about the fate of the convoy.

Baltic Sea. 10 miles off the East coast of Sweden, Soviet submarine S-7 sinks Swedish coastal freighter SS Luleå carrying iron ore to Germany. During the afternoon, 44 RAF Lancaster bombers fly at low level in formation over the North Sea, then split up and fly across the Baltic Sea, reaching Danzig at dusk and returning to England overnight (a round trip of 1,500 miles, the most distant target yet attempted). They are not intercepted by German fighters. 24 Lancasters find Danzig and bomb the U-boat yards (2 shot down by anti-aircraft fire).

Day 1044 July 10, 1942

First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. Allies go on the offensive. At 3.30 AM, British artillery opens up on Italian 60th Infantry “Sabratha” Division on Tel el Eisa ridge, near the Mediterranean coast West of El Alamein. Following the heaviest barrage yet in North Africa, Australian 26th Brigade (9th Division) attacks along the coastal railway and routs panicked Italian soldiers, taking 1,556 prisoners. Rommel rushes 15th Panzer North to reinforce the Italians but they are held off by the combination of British artillery and Australian anti-tank guns.

In the Bay of Biscay, Kriegsmarine minesweepers M-4401 and M-4457, which are clearing up mines laid by RAF bombers over the last several weeks, both hit mines and sink.

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer Army and 6th Army continue their progress South from Voronezh down the “Donets corridor” between the Donets River and the Don River. 1st Panzer Army turns South towards Rostov-on-Don. The German advance is swift and relatively unopposed as Soviet Southwest Front and Southern Front fall back.

Convoy PQ 17. Overnight, U-251 sinks Panamanian freighter El Capitan and U-376 sinks American SS Hoosier (both damaged yesterday by German bombing). More ships dribble into Soviet ports.

At 6.19 AM in the Gulf of Mexico 60 miles off the coast of Louisiana, U-67 torpedoes American tanker SS Benjamin Brewster, lying at anchor carrying 70,578 barrels of aviation fuel and lubricating oil. The tanker explodes and spreads burning oil across the water (25 burned to death, 15 survivors escape in lifeboats). SS Benjamin Brewster partially sinks in 37 feet of water, burning for 9 days and melting the superstructure (declared a total loss and broken up in 1951).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 1043 July 9, 1942

Overnight, a Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft spots Convoy WP 183 (merchant ships sailing from various Welsh ports to destinations on the South coast of England). At 1 AM, 7 German torpedo boats attack the convoy off Lyme Bay, Dorset. S67 sinks British tanker Pomella. S48, S109 and S70 sink Norwegian freighters SS Kongshaug (8 killed), SS Røsten (5 killed) and SS Bokn (12 killed). S50 sinks Dutch SS Reggestrom. S63 sinks a convoy escort, British armed trawler HMT Manor (19 killed, 1 survivor). Luftwaffe bombers also attack and sink British SS Gripfast (7 killed including 2 survivors from SS Røsten). Survivors from most ships are picked up by British destroyer HMS Brocklesby.

Convoy PQ 17. German Ju88 bombers damage Panamanian freighter El Capitan (all 67 hands survive) and American SS Hoosier (all 53 hands escape). The ships start arriving at Archangelsk, USSR.

Baltic Sea. Soviet submarine S-7 attacks Swedish coastal freighters 10 miles off the East coast of Sweden, missing SS Noreg at 4.17 PM and sinking SS Margareta (carrying coal from Germany, 14 killed) at 7.58 PM.

Finns counterattack the Soviet beachhead on the island of Someri in the Gulf of Finland, supported by shellfire from German and Finnish minesweepers. The minesweepers also prevent the landing of more Soviet reinforcements, sinking 4 Soviet torpedo cutters and a patrol cutter. By midday, Soviet troops surrender (126 killed, 149 taken POW).

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer Army captures Voronezh, despite strong Soviet resistance, while 6th Army reaches Rossosh 100 miles South of Voronezh. 1st Panzer Army joins the fray, attacking from Kharkov and crossing the Donets River. Soviet Southwest and Southern Fronts begin strategic withdrawals to the South and East; the first such retreat authorized by Stalin.

In the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, Italian submarine Perla fires torpedoes which miss British corvette HMS Hyacinth. HMS Hyacinth counterattacks with depth charges, forcing Perla to dive to 250 feet before losing control and rapidly surfacing (1 man killed by being blown out by the internal pressure as he opens the hatch, 25 crew taken prisoner). Perla is towed to Beirut, repaired and briefly commissioned into Royal Navy as P.712, then transferred to the Greek Navy on December 5 1942 as HHMS Matrozos (decommissioned in 1954).

In the North Atlantic, U-172 sinks American SS Santa Rita (carrying 2 captured German tanks back from North Africa), U-575 sinks British SS Empire Explorer, U-66 sinks Yugoslavian SS Triglav and U-203 sinks British MV Cape Verde.

In the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles North of Havana, Cuba, U-571 sinks Honduran SS Nicholas Cuneo with 43 shells from the deck gun.

Near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, US submarine USS Thresher sinks Japanese torpedo recovery vessel Shinsho Maru. Japanese counterattacks with depth charges and bombs are unsuccessful.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 1042 July 8, 1942

Overnight in the Gulf of Finland, Soviet troops land from 30 patrol boats and torpedo cutters on the Finnish-held island of Someri. Finnish defenders on the island hold out until dawn when Finnish gunboats, patrol boats and torpedo boats arrive to land reinforcements and harass the Soviet flotilla. 3 Soviet torpedo cutters are sunk by the Finnish boats and coastal batteries. Despite this, Soviet ships also manage to land reinforcements.

Convoy PQ 17. At 1 AM, U-255 sinks American SS Olopana (7 killed, 34 survivors float on 4 rafts for 2 days many suffering from frostbite). The commander of Convoy PQ 17, Commodore John Dowding, gathers up 5 freighters, 3 minesweepers, 3 corvettes, 3 anti-submarine trawlers, anti-aircraft ships HMS Pozarica & HMS Palomares and rescue ship Pozarica to proceed in convoy through the Matochkin Strait to Archangelsk.

10 miles off the South coast of Sweden, Soviet submarine ShCh-317 sinks German SS Otto Cords.

At 6.16 AM 4 miles off the Florida Keys, U-571 torpedoes US tanker MV J.A. Moffett, Jr. which runs aground and is a total loss (1 killed, 42 survivors US Coast Guard auxiliary craft Mary Jean and Southbound and cutter USCGC Nike).

In the Department of Justice Building, Washington, a special military commission (7 US Army officers appointed by President Roosevelt) begins the trial of 8 German saboteurs from Operation Pastorius, including the informant George Dasch. The trial will end on August 4.

In the South Pacific 20 miles Northwest of Rabaul, US submarine S-37 sinks Japanese transport Tenzan Maru. Japanese submarine chaser Ch30 depth charges S-37 without success.

US Admiral Chester Nimitz issues orders for the Marines to invade the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Admiral Ernest King, Commander in Chief US Navy, has President Roosevelt's approval for the offensive over the objections of the US Army who insist on a “Germany first” policy. The objectives are Tulagi (sheltering a Japanese seaplane base) and Guadalcanal (where the Japanese are constructing a large airfield at Lunga Point for deploy 45 fighters and 60 bombers to threaten the sea lanes from USA to Australia).

In the Mozambique Channel, Japanese submarine I-10 sinks British SS Hartismere, carrying 8000 tons of general cargo from Philadelphia to Alexandria, at 7.48 AM (all hands reach Portuguese East Africa) and Dutch freighter Alchiba, carrying 4000 tons of ammunition from Durban to Aden, at 6 PM (5 killed).

Rommel in Egypt is desperate for supplies. Convoy Siena departs Suda Bay, Crete (5 freighters escorted by Italian destroyer Mitragliere, German destroyer ZG-3, Italian torpedo boats Sirio and Cassiopea plus German submarine chasers UJ-2104 and UJ-2107). The convoy will arrive safely at Tobruk, Libya.

Overnight, 285 RAF bombers (137 Wellingtons, 52 Lancasters, 38 Halifaxes, 34 Stirlings, 24 Hampdens) attack the docks at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Most bombs fall in open country West of Wilhelmshaven (25 civilians killed, 170 injured). 3 Wellingtons, 1 Halifax & 1 Lancaster are lost.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 1041 July 7, 1942

Convoy PQ 17. U-457 uses shellfire from the 88mm gun to sink British fleet oiler RFA Alderdale which had been bombed and abandoned 2 days ago. U-355 sinks British SS Hartlebury (8 killed in the explosion, 32 drown in the freezing water, 20 survivors). U-255 sinks American SS Alcoa Ranger (all 40 hands abandon ship in 3 lifeboats).

At 9 AM 10 miles off Miami, Florida, U-571 sinks British SS Umtata, in tow by American tug Edmund J. Moran (all 92 crew picked up by the tug). SS Umtata is under tow to Port Everglades for repairs after being torpedoed in Port Castries harbour, St. Lucia on March 10 by U-161.

At 3 PM 50 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-701 surfaces to ventilate stagnant air, CO2 and heat due to damage to air-circulators sustained on June 27 by depth charges from US armed yacht USS St. Augustine. U-701 is spotted by US Army Hudson A-29 which drops 3 depth charges and sinks U-701 with 2 direct hits (29 drowned, 17 escape through the conning tower hatch). The survivors drift for 2 days off Cape Hatteras in a raft dropped by the A-29 but only 7 are found alive by a US Coast Guard floatplane on July 9.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 1040 July 6, 1942

Overnight in the Bay of Biscay 250 miles West of France, U-502 is caught charging her batteries on the surface by an RAF Wellington that approaches using radar. The bomber illuminates U-502 with a high-powered spotlight (Leigh Light) and then sinks her with depth charges (all 52 hands lost). Use of the Leigh Light forces U-boats to start charging batteries during the day.

At 00.36 AM 90 miles East of the Azores, U-201 sinks British passenger/cargo ship SS Avila Star (84 killed, 112 escape in 4 lifeboats). 73 survivors in 3 lifeboats are picked up after 2 days by Portuguese destroyer Lima but 1 lifeboat with 39 aboard drifts until July 25, when 29 survivors are rescued by Portuguese sloop Pedro Nunes (1 dies aboard Pedro Nunes and 2 more die in hospital in Lisbon, Portugal).

At 5.26 AM in the Mediterranean 20 miles Southwest of Haifa, Palestine, U-375 sinks Norwegian SS Hero which disintegrates and sinks within 50 seconds (31 killed, 13 men on deck blown overboard and rescued by an escort ship).

At 5.21 AM 10 miles Southeast of Cap Chat, Quebec, Canada, U-132 (which arrived in the St. Lawrence River, on July 3) attacks convoy QS-15, sinking Belgian SS Hainaut (1 dead, 44 survivors) and Greek SS Anastassios Pateras (3 dead, 26 survivors). At 6.46 AM U-132 torpedoes British SS Dinaric which remains afloat on her cargo of timber until July 9 (4 killed). Canadian minesweeper HMCS Drummondville attempts to ram and drops depth charges, causing minor damage to U-132, before rescuing 28 crew and 6 gunners in a lifeboat from SS Dinaric.

U-boat and bomber attacks on Convoy PQ 17 continue. U-255 sinks American SS John Witherspoon (1 killed, 49 survivors float in lifeboats for 3 days in the freezing water) and American SS Pan Atlantic is sunk by the Luftwaffe.

Case Blue. 4th Panzer Army reaches the outskirts of Voronezh, despite counterattacks by of columns Soviet tanks which are thwarted by ferocious Luftwaffe bombing ahead of the Panzers. As General Paulus’ 6th Army reaches Ostrogozhsky, 70 miles South of Voronezh (clearly heading down the “Donets corridor” between the Donets and Don rivers), the German plan becomes apparent. Stalin realizes that the thrust is not towards Moscow but South into the oilfields of the Caucasus. He determines that Voronezh must be held, in order to control a vital North-South railway for moving troops into the Caucasus and also to prevent an encirclement of Timoshenko’s Southwest Front who will be allowed to withdraw East over the Don River.

At 4.15 PM, Japanese submarine I-10 sinks Greek merchant Nymphe in the Mozambique Channel.

At 6.37 PM in the Yucatan Channel 20 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula, U-154 sinks tiny Panamanian fishing boat MV Lalita with shellfire. At 6.57 PM in the Gulf of Mexico 45 miles South of Pascagoula, Mississippi, U-67 sinks Norwegian MV Bayard (11 killed, 21 survivors picked up by a Hall PH-2 flyingboat from US Coast Guard Air Station Biloxi).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 1039 July 5, 1942

Overnight, British Admiralty orders Convoy PQ 17 to scatter and simultaneously instructs the covering force of cruisers and destroyers to return to Britain. The Admiralty has information about imminent U-boat attacks and also fears the arrival of German battleships Tirpitz, Lutzow & Admiral Scheer and cruiser Admiral Hipper. The German heavy ships never arrive but the scattered Allied merchant ships fall easy prey to U-boats and aircraft. During the course of the day, torpedo bombers sink 5 merchant ships and British rescue ship Zaafaran while several others are damaged. U-88 and U-703 each sink 2 while U-334 and U-456 sink 1 each, including several vessels damaged or stopped by the bombers.

At 11.51 AM, in the Baltic Sea off Memel, Latvia, Soviet submarine ShCh-320 sinks German coastal freighter SS Anna Katrin Fritzen.

First Battle of El Alamein. Rommel decides to halt his offensive. He knows he is low on supplies (due to RAF bombing his supply columns from Benghazi), almost out of tanks and, most importantly, out of luck. He also acknowledges that British General Auchinleck “deploys his forces with considerable skill”. Auchinleck further strengthens his hand by bringing the experienced Australian 9th Division back into the line (following a rest in Palestine and Syria after their defense of Tobruk during the siege).

At Kiska Island in the Aleutians, US submarine USS Growler attacks Japanese destroyers in Kiska Harbour. USS Growler blows the bow off Kasumi (10 killed, towed back to Japan and under repair until July 1943), damages Shiranuhi (3 dead) and sinks Arare (104 killed, 42 survivors rescued by lifeboats from Shiranuhi).

At 10.40 PM, British minesweeper HMS Niger leads Convoy QP 13 (empty ships returning from USSR to Iceland and Scotland, running at the same time as PQ 17) into a British minefield 10 miles North of Iceland, due to a navigation error in bad weather. HMS Niger hits a mine and sinks (149 killed including naval passengers returning from USSR). 6 merchant ships hit mines and 5 sink. British minesweeper HMS Hussar eventually obtains an accurate fix on land and leads the remaining 30 merchant ships to safety, arriving at Reykjavik on July 7.

Day 1038 July 4, 1942

In the Barents Sea 90 miles Northeast of Bear Island, German He115 torpedo bombers harass Convoy PQ 17 from dawn at 3 AM until 6.30 PM, sinking British SS Navarino. American SS William Hooper (3 dead and 55 survivors) and SS Christopher Newport (3 dead and 47 survivors) are badly damaged, abandoned and sunk later in the day by U-334 and U-457, respectively.

Case Blue. General von Bock wins his argument with Hitler to commit 4th Panzer Army to the conquest of Voronezh. At the same time, Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army is committed to the defense of Voronezh. Hitler, however, orders the infantry of General Paulus’ 6th Army to march South without tank support down the “Donets corridor” (between the Donets River and the Don River) to Stalingrad.

First Battle of El Alamein. British General Auchinleck (C-in-C Middle East Command), in command of 8th Army, estimates that German and Italian forces are at the end of their advance, exhausted and out of supplies. Auchinleck also believes that he enjoys a numerical superiority in tanks. Parts of 1st South African and 2nd New Zealand Divisions attack to clear out the open desert between El Alamein and Ruweisat Ridge, overrunning German positions and capturing 600 prisoners (who are left unguarded and promptly march back to their own lines).

In the Caribbean, U-129 sinks Soviet tanker MV Tuapse which had left the Black Sea in January to avoid German dive bombers (8 dead, 36 survivors) and U-575 sinks American SS Norlandia (9 killed, 21 survivors).

While escorting seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru (damaged yesterday by US bombers) 5 miles south of Agattu Island in the Aleutians, Japanese destroyer Nenohi is torpedoed by US submarine USS Triton, then capsizes and sinks in 7 minutes (188 killed, 38 survivors rescued by Japanese destroyer Inazuma).

In the Indian Ocean 1500 miles East of Madagascar, German armed merchant cruiser Thor stops Norwegian tanker MV Madrono (in ballast from Melbourne, Australia, to Abadan, Iran). MV Madrono is renamed Rossbach and sent to Japan with most of her crew on board, arriving on August 5.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 1037 July 3, 1942

At 4 AM, U-161 approaches the harbour at Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, and sinks Panamanian SS San Pablo at the pier, unloading a cargo from New Orleans (most of the crew are ashore but 1 crewman and 23 stevedores working in the holds are killed). 50 miles North of Trinidad, U-126 badly damages US tanker SS Gulfbelle (2 killed). Although most of the crew abandon ship, SS Gulfbelle does not sinks and is towed by British destroyer HMS Warwick to Port of Spain, Trinidad (then towed to Mobile, Alabama, for repairs, arriving on September 8, and returned to service in July 1943).

At 12.30 PM 186 miles East of Chatham, Cape Cod, U-215 sinks American SS Alexander Macomb on her maiden voyage carrying 9000 tons of military equipment, tanks, planes and explosives to USSR (4 crew and 6 gunners killed, 37 crew and 20 gunners rescued by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Le Tiger and Canadian corvette HCMS Regina). HMS Le Tiger then counterattacks and sinks U-215 with depth charges (all 48 hands lost).

7 B-24 Liberator bombers (US 11th Air Force) attack Japanese seaplane anchorage at Agattu Island, Aleutians, damaging oiler Fujisan. A near-miss kills several crewmen aboard seaplane carrier Kimikawa Maru.

First Battle of El Alamein. Overnight, British reinforce Ruweisat Ridge (the force is now known as “Walgroup", still under Brigadier Robert Waller). Rommel attacks Ruweisat Ridge again with 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions, adding Italian XX Motorised Corps, but they are held by Waller’s artillery and RAF bombing. New Zealand 2nd Division advances from the Qattara “box”, near the Qattara Depression, to break up the Axis attack and routs Italian Ariete Division which loses 531 troops (350 taken prisoners), 36 artillery pieces, 6 tanks and 55 trucks. By the end of the day, Afrika Korps has only 26 operational tanks while Ariete Division has 5.

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer Army crosses the Don River near Voronezh but meets stiffening resistance from Soviet forces. Hitler flies to Poltava, Ukraine, to discuss the slow progress of the operation with General von Bock, commander of Army Group South. They argue over the next steps, with Hitler wanting to stick to the plan and advance South to the oilfields while von Bock worries about the Soviet forces gathering on his flank and insists on securing Voronezh.

Kriegsmarine pocket battleships Lutzow and Admiral Scheer and 6 destroyers depart Narvik to meet battleship Tirpitz, cruiser Admiral Hipper and their escorts, prior to foraying against convoy PQ 17. Lutzow and 3 destroyers run aground. 9 British and 7 Soviet submarines deploy to intercept the German battlegroup. Soviet submarines D-3 and M-176 are lost in German minefields.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 1036 July 2, 1942

In Parliament, British Prime Minister Churchill faces a vote of no confidence following the series of defeats by Japan in the Far East and now by Rommel in Libya. The proposers of the vote, Conservative MPs Sir John Wardlaw-Milne & Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes plus National Liberal MP Leslie Hore-Belisha (previously Chamberlain’s Secretary of State for War), present a half-baked case for censure. Churchill, closing the debate, responds “if democracy and Parliamentary institutions are to triumph in this war, it is absolutely necessary that Governments resting upon them shall be able to act and dare, that the servants of the Crown shall not be harassed by nagging and snarling”. He wins the confidence of Parliament comfortably, 475 to 25.

Kriegsmarine battleship Tirpitz, cruiser Admiral Hipper, 4 destroyers and 2 torpedo boats depart Trondheim to intercept Allied convoy PQ 17, which is being shadowed by submarines and Blohm & Voss BV 138 Seedrache (Sea Dragon) flying boats. Seven He115 seaplanes attack the convoy unsuccessfully with torpedoes.

With Sevastopol mostly under German control, Luftwaffe turns its attention to the Soviet Black Sea Fleet in the Caucasus port of Novorossisk, sinking Soviet destroyers Bditelny and Tashkent (which is under repair from damage inflicted by German bombers in the Black Sea on June 28). Several other warships are damaged including 2 destroyers and cruiser Komintern (which is moved 250 miles Southeast to the port of Poti for repairs).

First Battle of El Alamein. Rommel tries the same tactics with the same result. 90th Light Division fails to make progress against the coastal “El Alamein box”, again stopped by British artillery and RAF bombing. 10 miles inland, 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions are stopped by "Robcol" (field artillery, light anti-aircraft guns and an infantry company under Brigadier Robert Waller) which occupies the dominating high ground at Ruweisat Ridge. In late afternoon, British 4th and 22nd Armoured Brigades attack both Panzer Divisions and drive back the German tanks, capturing 2,000 prisoners and 30 field guns.

At 6.17 AM in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, U-129 sinks Norwegian MV Gundersen (1 killed, 25 survivors in 2 lifeboats picked up after a few hours by Norwegian SS Dea).

80 miles East of Shanghai, China, US submarine USS Plunger sinks Japanese transport ship Unyo Maru No.3.

Overnight, 325 RAF bombers (175 Wellingtons, 53 Lancasters, 35 Halifaxes, 34 Stirlings, 28 Hampdens) return to Bremen, Germany, damaging 1000 houses and 4 small industrial firms (5 civilians killed, 4 injured). In the port, 3 cranes and 7 ships are damaged with 1,736-ton steamer Marieborg sunk. 8 Wellingtons, 2 Hampdens, 2 Stirlings & 1 Halifax are lost.

Day 1035 July 1, 1942

Before dawn in the Sulu Sea, Philippines, US submarine USS Sturgeon sinks Japanese passenger/cargo ship Montevideo Maru. USS Sturgeon is unaware that Montevideo Maru is carrying 845 Australian POWs and 208 civilian internees, plus 88 crew, from Rabaul, New Britain, to the Chinese island of Hainan South China Sea (1124 killed, only 17 crew survive).

At 1.27 AM 250 miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U-202 torpedoes US passenger/cargo ship SS City of Birmingham en route to Bermuda (7 crew and 2 passengers lost). 106 crew, 5 gunners and 263 passengers abandon ship in 5 minutes as SS City of Birmingham sinks (rescued 2 hours later by escort destroyer USS Stansbury).

US Navy cargo ship USS Luckenbach, carrying 1/6 of the world’s supply of tungsten, hits 2 mines and sinks in a US minefield 10 miles South of the Florida Keys (later salvaged to recover the tungsten, valued at $1,500,000). At 5.44 PM in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, U-129 sinks Norwegian SS Cadmus (2 killed, 20 survivors in 2 lifeboats reach the coast of Mexico after 5 days). At 6.31 PM 125 miles East of Trinidad, U-126 sinks American SS Warrior heading to Iran with 10,080 tons of Lend-Lease supplies and fuel for USSR (7 killed, 49 survivors rescued 4 hours later by US destroyer USS Herbert).

In the Barents Sea, U-456 spots Allied convoy PQ 17 from Iceland to Arkhangelsk, USSR, and begins shadowing the convoy.

Case Blue. German 4th Panzer Army rolls on towards Voronezh where the Red Army is preparing a counterattack. Germans declare Sevastopol to be in their hands, although sporadic Soviet resistance will continue for several days. Since the siege began on October 30, 1941, Soviet losses are 18,000 killed, 95,000 taken prisoner and 5000 evacuated out by ship sick and wounded. Germans have 5786 killed and 21,626 wounded while Romanian losses are 1874 killed and 6571 wounded.

First Battle of El Alamein. Rommel plans to ‘bounce’ British 8th Army with speed and daring, betting that the Allied positions are not prepared and the troops are ready to quit. Things go wrong from the beginning. 90th Light Division advances at 3 AM but strays into the minefields of the heavily defended coastal “box” manned by 1st South African Division. 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions attack further inland but are stopped by massed artillery fire and lose 18 tanks. Despite this, the Panzers overrun 18th Indian Infantry Brigade at Deir el Shein but are then repelled by an attack from British 1st Armoured Division, held as a mobile reserve. British have 2 advantages at El Alamein; first, being able to concentrate their artillery across the narrow front between the sea and the impassable Qattara Depression; second, a constant supply of ammunition brought up by rail from Alexandria.

At 1.43 PM in the Mediterranean 66 miles East of Port Said, Egypt, U-97 torpedoes British SS Marilyse Moller igniting the cargo of aviation fuel from Beirut to Port Said for British 8th Army (35 killed in the explosion, 4 survivors rescued by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Burra which counterattacks U-97 unsuccessfully with 3 depth charges).

In the Mozambique Channel, Japanese submarine I-16 sinks Swedish MV Eknaren and I-18 sinks Dutch vessel De Weert.