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.

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