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).

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