Monday, July 9, 2012

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).

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