15 - 21 August 1942

15 August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : Based on signals imntelligence from German Naval HQ in Kerneval , France , German submarine U-705 intercepted and attacked Allied slow convoy SC-95 ( It was guarded by the one remaining American MOEF escort group in the North Atlantic, A-3, commanded by Captain Paul Heineman. It consisted of the big Treasury-class Coast Guard cutter USS Spencer, the four-stack American destroyer USS Schenck, and four Canadian and two British corvettes.) 570 miles west of Ireland at 0358 hours, torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Balladier; 13 were killed, 32 survived.

Mediterranean Sea : The British tanker SS Ohio towed by three British destroyers and one British minesweeper, arrived at Malta at 0700 hours; she would later sink in Valetta Harbour, Malta from her damage after her cargo of fuel was unloaded.

Ohio was surrounded by ships to nurse the tanker to Grand Harbour and several American volunteers from Santa Eliza manned anti-aircraft guns on Ohio during the tow. The weight of the tanker kept breaking the tow lines, while constant air attacks were made by 20 bombers that destroyed the rudder, made a hole in her stern and brought the decks awash. The tanker was towed in by the destroyers Ledbury and Penn lashed on either side, with the minesweeper HMS Rye acting as a stabiliser at the stern. More air attacks disrupted the towing formation, until it was re-established with Bramham replacing Ledbury for the remainder of the journey. Ohio was towed into Grand Harbour at 09:30 on 15 August, to cheering crowds and a band playing Rule Britannia. The crowd fell silent as the ships entered harbour, men removed their hats, women crossed themselves as they saw the heavy damage on the hull of Ohio and a bugle sounded Still. The tanker discharged all of her oil cargo (13.000 tons) into two tankers and water was pumped in at the same time, to reduce the chance of structural failure. Ohio settled on the bottom just as the last of the fuel was emptied.

"If only I were a writer instead of a naval officer writing up a journal 20 years later for his family, how I would like to be able to describe the scene and my feelings,” wrote Captain Roger Hill , commander of destroyer HMS Ledbury escorted Ohio. “The great ramparts and battlements of Malta, built against the siege by the Turks, were lined and black with people. Thousands and thousands of cheering people—on the ramparts, on the foreshore, on the rooftops, the roads, paths, and at every window. Everywhere bands were playing; bands of all the services and Maltese bands. The uneven thumps of the drums and crash of cymbals echoed back from the great walls.“It was Saturday morning. Years and years ago we had left Gibraltar, and that was last Sunday morning. It did not make sense, but all this had taken only a week.”

The Maltese understood. It was August 15, the Feast of Santa Marija.“Today is the Feast of St Mary, the celebration of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven,” said The Times of Malta that morning. “It will be celebrated without any of the traditional manifestations of rejoicing, which accompanied ‘Santa Marija,’ Patroness of Malta, in the pre-war days. ‘Santa Marija’ is a day of thanksgiving to God through Our Lady for the mercies received, and of prayer for added strength to resist the material powers of evil, and also a day of rededication to the cause which we are convinced is sacred and just.

Operation Pedestal concludes.

The Admiralty extended its “admiration of the gallantry and determination” of all the men in the convoy.“Thank you very much, though we should feel better if our losses had been lighter and we had got more ships through to Malta,” replied Admiral Syfret. Losses of Royal Navy had been indeed heavy. One aircraft carrier (HMS Eagle) , two cruisers , one destroyer sunk and nine merchant ships lost during passage of the convoy , one cruiser and one destroyer severely damaged and only four cargo ships and a tanker reached Malta , bringing 32.000 tons of general supplies and 13.000 tons of urgently needed fuel. Axis lost two submarines , one fast torpedoboat and 44 aircraft shot down and two Italian crusers so heavily damaged they could never sail again.

Malta Governor Lord Gort took the destroyer captains to lunch the next day—a modest vegetarian omelet—and told them that if the Ohio hadn’t gotten through, Malta would have been forced to surrender in sixteen days.

Prime Minister Churchill cabled the First Sea Lord from Moscow:

“Please convey my compliments to Admirals Syfret, Burrough, and Lyster and all officers and men engaged in the magnificent crash through of supplies to Malta, which cannot fail to have an important influence on the immediate future of the war in the Mediterranean.”

Now there was enough food , supplies and fuel in Malta to last till mid December 1942. “To the continental observer, the British losses seemed to represent a big victory for the Axis,” wrote German Naval Commander in Chief Mediterranean Admiral Weichold, “and they were accordingly exploited for propaganda purposes. But in reality the facts were quite different, since, in spite of all these successes, the Air Force had not been able to prevent a British force, among which were probably five merchant vessels, reaching Valletta. Thereby the enemy had gained the strategic end of his operation, in spite of what it may have cost him. Thanks to these new supplies, Malta was rendered capable of fighting for several weeks, or, at a pinch, for several months.“

"The main issue, the danger of air attack on the supply route to North Africa which was later to be smashed from Malta, remained. To achieve this objective no price was too high. The British operation, in spite of all the losses, was not the defeat it was made out to be by German public opinion, but a strategic failure of the first order on the part of the Axis, the repercussions of which would one day be felt.”

Churchill called it like Weichold, again. “Thus in the end five gallant merchant ships out of fourteen got through with their precious cargoes,” he said. “The loss of three hundred and fifty officers and men and of so many of the finest ships in the Merchant Navy and in the escorting fleet of the Royal Navy was grievous. The reward justified the price exacted. Revictualled and replenished with ammunition and vital stores, the strength of Malta revived. British submarines returned to the island, and, with the striking forces of the Royal Air Force, regained their dominating position in the Central Mediterranean.

“It should have been within the enemy’s power, as it was clearly his interest, to destroy this convoy utterly.” wrote Churchill’s secretary, Elizabeth Layton Nel, “To me this episode, which was code-named PEDESTAL, always seemed the turning point of the war, the time when the news, after being bad, always bad for so long, despite adverse circumstances turned to encouraging.”

It’s true that after the Ohio came in, all went downhill for the Axis. The tanker carried enough fuel oil to bring the 10th Submarine Flotilla back to Malta, and Royal Navy submarines resumed sinking more thousands of tons of Rommel’s supplies. Operation Pedestal’s four freighters delivered the high-octane gas and aircraft parts that the RAF fighters and bombers needed for renewed attacks on Axis convoys from Italy to North Africa; by the end of September there were a hundred more serviceable fighters on Malta, repaired from the parts and powered by the fuel delivered by Pedestal.

The Maltese were able to put some meat back on their bones. That fall, two more convoys met little resistance, delivering nine of nine ships, carrying mostly foodstuffs.

“Malta is the war’s key fortress,” said The New York Times. “In convoying supplies to Malta, the risk was deliberately taken—a proof not only of audacity, but of the desperate importance of holding this speck of an island. That Malta still stands, isolated and interminably bombarded as it is, is one of the miracles of the war.”

On August 23, 1942, eight days after the Ohio reached Grand Harbour, Captain Dudley Mason captain of SS Ohio , was lionized by the London Sunday papers. GREATEST DRAMA OF THE YEAR! screamed one headline. THEY SAILED INTO HELL; HE DEFIED THE NAZIS’ BOMBS AND WON THROUGH. He was awarded the George Cross Medal, Mason resumed his career as a master for Eagle Oil and Shipping a few months later.

Operation Pedestal had lifted the siege on Malta. In July there had been 180 air raids on the island, and in September there were just 60. In July 10,000 tons of Axis shipping had been sunk, and in September that amount was tripled. RAF aircraft and Royal Navy 10th Submarine Flotilla based in Malta zeroed in on Axis tankers.

Even same day , Royal Navy submarine activity began to rise up in Central Mediterranean. Royal Navy submarine HMS Porpoise torpedoed and sank Italian merchant ship Lerici 140 miles west of Crete, Greece.

Moscow , Russia : Prime Minister Churchill and his entourage left Moscow aboard their B-24 aircraft thar brought them , en route back to Cairo , Egypt.

Caucasian Front , Russia : German troops attacked Grozny, the capital of Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in southern Russia; it was defended by troops of Soviet 9th Army and 37th Army.

German troops captured Georgiyevsk and reached the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.

Don River , Russia : Troops of German Sixth Army attacked the remnants of Soviet 4th Tank Army on the west bank of the Don River bend at 0430 hours. With the road to the Don strewn with smashed Soviet tanks, there was little left of 4th Tank: its three rifle divisions mustered less than 800 men, 22nd Tank Corps had a handful of tanks, 22nd Motorized Rifle Brigade had 200 men. Gordov himself was ordered to take personal command, though he could not improve the ammunition and fuel situation, stocks of which were now almost gone. Shumilov and Chuikov were more successful in holding off Fourth Panzer Army, but the critical situation built up to a climax on the right flank of 62nd Army. German units were across the Don on the Trekhostrovskaya-Gerasimov sector in 4th Tank Army area, and at Perepolnyi-Luchenskii on the right of Lopatin’s 62nd Army; by assault boat and kapok rafts Paulus’s assault divisions made the hazardous crossings of the Don, while Soviet aircraft made repeated attacks to destroy the pontoon bridges being built to move the armour.

Baltic Sea : Finnish patrol boat VMV 5 sank Soviet submarine M-97 with depth charges three miles off of the Estonian coast in the Gulf of Finland

Germany : 131 British bombers from RAF Bomber Command attacked Düsseldorf, Germany in poor weather; one stray 4,000-pound bomb hit the town of Neuss, killing 1 civiliand and wounding 13; four bombers were lost on this mission.

Guadalcanal , South West Pacific : US Navy destroyers USS Colhoun, USS Gregory, USS Little, and USS McKean made the first supply mission for US Marines at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

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16 August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-507 torpedoed and sank Brazilian passenger ship Baependy at 0012 hours (270 were killed, 36 survived), merchant ship Araraquara at 0203 hours (131 were killed, 11 survivied), and cargo ship Annibal Benévolo at 0913 hours (150 were killed, 4 survived) off Aracaju, Brazil.

At 0745 hours, 620 miles west of Ireland, German submarine U-596 stopped Swedish merchant ship Suecia, forced the crew of 35 and 12 passengers to abandon ship (1 would drown in the process and 1 lifeboat containing 8 men would never be found), and sank the ship along with its cargo of American steel bound for Britain with a torpedo.

North Sea : German anti submarine vessel Sperrbrecher 60 Elster (1,136 GRT, 1922) struck a mine and sank in the North Sea off Den Helder, North Holland, Netherlands

English Channel : Royal Navy motor gunboat MGB 330 rammed and sank German minesweeper R-183 off Calais , France

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarine HMS Turbulent torpedoed and damaged Italian transport Nino Bixio 40 miles off the Peloponnese peninsula, Greece; unknown to the crew of HMS Turbulent, the Italian ship was carrying 3,200 Allied prisoners of war, which would make up most of the 336 killed during the attack. Nino Bixio would remain afloat and was towed to shore for repairs. ww2dbase

German submarine U-77 sank small Palestinian sailing vessel Daniel with her deck gun off Palestine at 2334 hours.

Gibraltar : Royal Navy carrier HMS Furious departed Gibraltar with 32 Spitfire fighters on board for delivery to Malta; she was escorted by cruiser HMS Charybdis, destroyer HMS Antelope, destroyer HMS Bicester, destroyer HMS Derwent, destroyer HMS Eskimo, destroyer HMS Keppel, destroyer HMS Laforey, destroyer HMS Lookout, destroyer HMS destroyer HMS Lightning, destroyer HMS Malcolm, destroyer HMS Somali, destroyer HMS Venomous, and destroyer HMS Wishart.

Caucasian Front , Russia : German troops reached the Kadar Gorge in southern Russia.

In mid August, German Army Group A regrouped for the second stage of its offensive, aimed at Baku and Batum: First Panzer Army would strike from east of Voroshilovsk in the direction of Grozny-Makhatchkala-Baku, the Seventeenth Army would move on Novorossiisk from Krasnodar and roll down the Black Sea coast to Sukhumi-Batumi with 79 Jäger Corps moving into the Caucasian mountain passes from Cherkesska to strike into the Soviet rear through a battle zone of cliffs and glaciers towering up to more than 10,000 feet, where passes were left only lightly guarded. The Stavka had already issued orders to Tyulenev to cover the passes and to close off the approaches to the Caucasus from the north; at that moment, the attention of the staff of the Trans-Caucasus Front was fastened on the Black Sea coastline, where the main force of 46th Army – a force raised internally within Tyulenev’s Front, commanded first by Major-General V.F. Sergatskov and then by Major-General K.N. Leselidze – was to be deployed. Tyulenev’s staff, too, was not a stable organization: headed at first by Subbotin, he gave way to P.I. Bodin who in turn was replaced by A.I. Antonov (Malinovskii’s Front chief of staff) but he lasted for only two weeks.

Baltic Sea : Finnish merchant ship Helen struck a mine and sank off Ruger , Germany.

Guadalcanal , South West Pacific : Early in the Guadalcanal morning, a Marine sentry gapes when he sees two rows of nearly naked natives, closed up and rifles at the slope, stepping along towards him with smart precision. Leading them, accompanied by a small dog, is a white man in tattered shirt and shorts, but wearing an immaculate pair of black dress oxfords.

Martin Clemens has broken through Japanese lines to reach the US Marines. Lacking identification and password, Clemens figures that he should make the most conspicuous approach possible, to obviously not be Japanese. The Marine guard gets the point and lowers his rifle. Clemens, about to speak English for the first time in weeks, can only whisper his name.

In seconds, a mob of Marines turn up, offering chocolate and cigarettes, asking questions. The Marines take Clemens to the division’s Tac HQ, where Vandegrift appoints Clemens to his intelligence staff. From now on, Clemens supplies the Marines with scouts and guides, while collecting information through his native contacts, who can slip through the lines.

That evening, he has a reunion with Charles Widdy, helped by captured Japanese sake and brandy. They talk all night long until 3 a.m., when a weary Marine orders them to knock it off.

While Clemens is ecstatic to be free again, he is hoping for a beer, hot bath, and soft bed. He gets none of these, just a foxhole in a coconut grove to share with Widdy.

Caroline Islands , Pacific Ocean : In the Caroline Islands, Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki and 916 men departed Truk aboard 6 destroyers for Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. They were tasked to recapture the Lunga Point Airfield. The remainder of the 28th Infantry Regiment embarked on slower transports, aiming to arrive a few days later.

Pacific Ocean : American submarines USS Argonaut and USS Natilus departed with 121 US Marines, “Carlson’s Raiders”, for Makin Island.

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17 August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-507 , torpedoed and sank Brazilian cargo ship Itagiba off Brazil at 1549 hours (36 were killed, 145 survived); later at 1803 hours, as Brazilian cargo ship Arará approached to rescue survivors, U-507 sank her as well (20 were killed, 16 survived).

Meanwhile, German submarine U-653 discovered convoy Sierra Leone SL-118 off West Africas and called BDu , Submarine Command in Kerneval , France to create Blucher wolfpack to attack the convoy.at 1756 hours. First German submarine that arrived , U-566 intercepted convoy Sierra Leone SL-118 , torpedoed and sank Norwegian merchant ship Triton 200 miles northeast of the Azores islands; all 43 aboard survived.

At 2244 hours, after a six-hour pursuit, German submarine U-108 sank US tanker Louisiana 200 miles off French Guiana; all 49 aboard were killed.

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-658 attacked Allied convoy PG-6 between Cuba and Haiti at 0619 hours, sinking Egyptian ship Samir, sinking British cargo ship Fort la Reine (3 were killed, 41 survived), and damaging British merchant ship Laguna (all aboard survived).

Arctic Ocean : German submarine U-209 attacked a Soviet convoy with her deck gun off Matveev Island in northwestern Russia in Pechora Sea between 0526 and 0920 hours, sinking tug Komsomolec, tug Komiles, barge P-4 (305 were killed, 23 survived), and barge Sh-500.

German submarine U-209 spotted Soviet ocean tug Komsomelets and ocean tug Nord at 0700 hours east of the Yugorsky Peninsula in northern Russia; the two tugs were towing barge P4, lighter Sh-500, and tug Komiles. U-209 immediately shelled Komsomelets and fired a torpedo at P4, which missed. At 0800 hours, U-209 shelled Komiles, forcing her crew to abandon ship. At 0810, U-209 shelled and sank Sh-500. Shortly after, U-209 fired another torpedo at P4; 305 were killed (most of whom were penal construction workers), 23 survived.

North Sea : German cargo ship Wuri strucka mine and sank off Aalborg , Denmark.

Cairo , Egypt : Winston Churchill and his entourage arrived at Cairo, Egypt. Churchill’s immediate purpose had been achieved. On 17 August, after leaving Moscow, he was able to inform Roosevelt that, despite their ‘grievous disappointment’ about the postponement of the second front, the Russians ‘have swallowed this bitter pill. Everything for us now turns on hastening TORCH and defeating Rommel’.

El Alamein : Panzer Army Afrika remained desperately short of fuel. Rommel had met with Marshal Ugo Cavallero, Barbasetti, Kesselring and von Rintelen on 18 August to discuss his plans for the offensive and also to sort out the supply problems. On that day, the German forces in Africa had 3,000 cubic metres of fuel, but since the consumption was 300 cubic metres per day the stocks would be nearly gone by 26 August, the date of the projected attack. Rommel insisted that he must receive an additional 10 consumption units of fuel18 (6,000 tons) and two issues of ammunition before he could attack. Rommel emphasised that he could postpone the operation for only a few days because the full moon was essential to the success of the plan. Italian Chief of Staff Ugo Cavallero promised to deliver 6,000 tons of fuel to the Panzer Army by X-day (the date of Rommel’s attack on Alamein line) and mentioned that 750 tons of Italian fuel would be brought up for German use. Kesselring gave additional guarantees that, in an emergency, he would undertake to fly 500 tons of fuel across from Greece every day to ensure that the army had sufficient supplies.

However both Royal Navy and RAF units in Egypt and Royal Navy 10th Submarine Flotilla (recently activated with arrival of Pedestal Convoy) and RAF and Fleet Air Arm squadrons in Malta now beganto increase their activities to sever Axis supply lines

During August 1942, the Panzer Army Afrika had faced a range of problems but the worst was undoubtedly what can only be described as a quartermaster’s nightmare. Having advanced to El Alamein and survived the repeated attacks mounted by Eighth Army during July, the Panzerarmee had found itself stranded in the desert. Rommel had never expected to spend so long at the gates of Egypt. Now the Axis quartermasters had to try to find a solution to the problems of an army which had long passed its culminating point.

Throughout the July fighting, the Panzer Army had moved from crisis to crisis and had survived only on a hand-to-mouth basis. Much of the petrol, ammunition, food, mines, tools and even uniforms used by the army had come from captured British stocks. On 1 August, the Panzer Army HQ reported to Berlin that the supplies reaching the front were sufficient only for the daily requirements of the troops. It was impossible to build up reserves for a major offensive operation. It was not that the supplies did not exist. Indeed, equipment and supplies earmarked for North Africa were piling up in Europe. It was estimated that 2,000 trucks and 100 guns for German formations awaited transport from Italy with a further 1,000 trucks and 120 tanks held in Germany. The problem lay in getting those supplies across the Mediterranean to North African ports and then to El Alamein.

Most of the supplies destined for the Panzer Army were loaded at Naples because of its better rail connection but Taranto and Brindisi were also used. Ships were also on occasion loaded up at Piraeus, the port of Athens, in Greece. However, after the heavy losses of two years of war, the Italian merchant marine was beginning to feel the strain of the constant runs to North Africa. The Italian Navy, moreover, was finding it increasingly difficult to provide destroyer escorts for convoys and at the same time was hampered by the lack of fuel oil. During August 1942, the Italian Navy was allocated 47,000 tons of fuel oil from Germany and Romania but the projected consumption was 68,000 tons. The shortfall had to be covered by almost literally scraping the bottom of the barrel; amongst other desperate measures, 7,000 tons of oil were emptied out of the Italian cruisers to provide fuel for the convoys. Ultimately, the Panzerarmee depended on the availability of Italian naval escorts for the timing and frequency of its supply convoys.

Powerful escorts for the convoys had once again become necessary because, after the arrival of the Pedestal convoy to Malta, British action in the Sicilian narrows had become more aggressive. Axis supplies bound for North Africa had to run the gauntlet of increased British air and submarine attacks mounted from Malta and Egypt.

Even with these attacks, the Italian Navy still found it possible to escort the majority of supplies safely across the Mediterranean. However, once a convoy had reached Tripoli, Benghazi or Tobruk there remained the problem of getting them to the front. They had to be unloaded from the ships, dumped on the quays and then loaded onto trucks for the long drive to the front. While Tripoli could handle large quantities of materiel, it was nearly 1,400 miles from there to the front. Benghazi, which could also handle reasonable amounts of shipping, was 700 miles from El Alamein. The ports of Tobruk, Bardia, Derna and Mersa Matruh had all been captured during the advance into Egypt but none of them was able to handle large amounts efficiently. Tobruk, the largest of these ports, had been constructed as an Italian naval base and did not have the large wharfs necessary for efficient unloading of merchant ships. This meant that Tobruk could not process more than 20,000 tons of supplies out of the 100,000 tons needed every month. During August, the Panzer Army HQ demanded that Italian workmen should be deployed to develop the installations at Tobruk and develop landing quays in the small bays and inlets along the coast. However, Tobruk was also under constant attack by British medium bombers and American heavy bombers which made the use of the port very difficult and slowed this development work to a crawl.

The major problem for Rommel was that his Panzer Army needed around 100,000 tons of supplies every month if it were to function to capacity, but there was simply not the means of getting it to him. The principal ports under his control along the North African coast were Tripoli (around 1300 miles from Alamein), Benghazi (around 800 miles), Tobruk (300 miles), and Mersa Matruh (109 miles). Between May and August, Axis shipping was able to reach Tripoli and Benghazi almost unscathed because these routes were too far away to be affected by Allied air attacks from the Middle East and because Malta had virtually ceased to operate as an offensive platform after the terrible aerial blitz it had received during the first four months of the year, while efforts to resupply the island with fuel, especially, had largely failed.

Before Rommel had continued his advance to Egypt in June, Rome had assured him ‘several times’ that so long as the ports of Tobruk and Mersa Matruh were in Axis hands, adequate supplies could be guaranteed. These assurances had proved false, however.

First, Tobruk and Mersa Matruh were well within range of the Allied air forces in the Middle East and were attacked almost continuously. Again, the actual numbers of ships that were sunk in port were not great, but the level of disruption and damage caused to two already heavily damaged ports was considerable. Rommel liked to blame the Italians for much of his woes and complained that the unloading of shipping in Tobruk, where little more than 600 tons a day were ever successfully disembarked, was ‘a terribly leisurely affair’ made worse by ‘lack of initiative and a total absence of any sort of technical ingenuity’. Furthermore, frequent aerial attacks brought more damage to the port as well as time delays: whilst bombs were being dropped, all work stopped, and then, once the bombers disappeared, more time had to be spent clearing up the rubble and wreckage. This was now even the case with Benghazi, which was frequently attacked at night and by American long-range bombers during the day. The 20,000 tons a month Tobruk was handling by Italians was, in fact, quite an achievement by Italian logistics units. It was Rommel himself who wasted and misused that supply and logistics flow by overextending all the way to Alamein line instead of defending Libya , his main mission from Berlin and Rome.

Certainly, Rommel did not have direct control over the logisticians in Italy. Supplying the Panzer Army was principally the job of the Italian High Command, the Commando Supremo. So it was that in July – despite Rommel’s angry protestations – the Italians insisted on sending nearly all their monthly supplies through Tripoli and Benghazi. Only 5 per cent of shipping was lost and 91,000 tons were successfully docked, but at such huge distances from the front this was of little use to the Panzer Army. Half the precious fuel landed was used just getting it across the huge distances to the front. It took a week, for example, just to bring supplies from Benghazi. In August, Rommel put his foot down and insisted the Italians dock at Tobruk and Mersa Matruh. The result was that, although the route to the front shortened dramatically, losses rose and only half the required monthly supplies ever made it onto dry land.

But the second reason why the Italians failed to deliver at Tobruk and Mersa was the size and scale of Axis shipping. While shipping remained adequate to supply North Africa in terms of tonnage, the number of large vessels had dropped dramatically.* Consequently, greater numbers of ships were required, which took longer to load and unload and a bottleneck ensued. More significantly, despite the damage inflicted, five ships from a fourteen-ship Allied convoy managed to reach Malta by 15 August, including the tanker Ohio, and with these arrivals, Malta’s capabilities as an offensive platform rose considerably. Working in conjunction with the Allied air forces of the Middle East, Malta made Rommel’s urgent need for fuel one of his biggest nightmares of the entire campaign in North Africa.

‘Unless I get 2,000 cubic metres of fuel, 500 tons of ammunition by the 25th [August] and a further 2,000 cubic metres of fuel by the 27th and 2,000 tons of ammunition by the 30th, I cannot proceed,’ he told General von Rintelen, the German military attaché in Rome. The Commando Supremo hurriedly put together a plan to send more fuel-carrying ships. Nine vessels were to leave Italy over a period of six days, starting on 28 August. Rommel had to pray that they would all arrive safely, for, as Kesselring pointed out, ‘Petrol was already scarce, and the loss of a 4,000–6,000-ton tanker meant an almost irreparable gap.’

This supply headache did not affect Alexander to anything like the same degree. Just 60 miles from Alex and only 150 miles from the Suez Canal, Britain was unloading around 100,000 tonnes of fuel a month. Britain would not be defeated because of lack of supplies.

Naturally, the movement of supplies from these far distant ports consumed vast quantities of petrol and caused great wear and tear on the motor transport involved. In fact, there was a chronic shortage of motor transport within the Panzer Army. At any one time, 25 per cent of the Panzer Army’s motor transport was under repair and since 85 per cent of it consisted of captured British vehicles, the lack of spare parts created an enormous problem. The simple fact was Rommel with his overoptimism and overambition to reach Suez Channel , extended to east too much without necessary logistical infrastructure and brought his army to a breaking point and now asking more resources and supplies from his superiors when there were no means to deliver them , never thinking he himself caused that dilemma in the first place by advancing all the way to Egypt without supply logistics build up and transport system and by refusing to retreat.

Air transport was the one method which promised to short-circuit the strictures of Clausewitz’s diminishing power of the offensive. Troops and supplies could be transported quickly and relatively safely across the Mediterranean in Ju52 transport aircraft. However, the Luftwaffe could never provide sufficient air transport to fulfil anything more than a small percentage of the daily needs of the Panzer Army. Bulk supplies still had to travel by sea. The soldiers of the German 164th Division, the Italian Folgore Parachute Division and the German Ramcke Parachute Brigade which were flown across to North Africa from Italy and Crete during July and August were welcome additions to the strength of the Panzerarmee but they brought no motor transport of their own. 164th Division had been equipped with obsolete 37mm anti-tank guns and much capacity had to be used in flying over hundreds of 50mm anti-tank guns to equip the division. The arrival of these troops strengthened the defences of the front but at the same time created more difficulties for the quartermasters. Now, though there were more mouths to feed and more requirements for ammunition and equipment, there were no more vehicles to satisfy the requirements. Air transport could never satisfy the complex and voracious appetite of a mechanised army in the field.

Attempts were made to solve the transport problem by making more use of coastal shipping to bring limited quantities of supplies to the smaller ports nearer the front. At the beginning of August, however, there was just one steamer available to ply the coastal route. Since only three Italian destroyers were based in Africa in August 1942, there were constant delays in sailings and some coastal shipping had to wait for eight days before an escort could be found. Although the Panzer Army requested more Italian barges and at least three Italian coastal vessels for German use, such shipping was highly vulnerable to RAF attacks. On 2 August alone, the RAF sank two barges and two auxiliary vessels in Bardia harbour.

The ability of the Desert Air Force to mount powerful raids against the Axis lines of supply also severely reduced the quantities of supplies which the Panzerarmee was receiving. During July, 20,000 tons of Axis shipping was sunk mainly as a result of air attack from Malta and Egypt. The losses climbed to 65,000 tons in mid August. Greater Luftwaffe protection was demanded but this merely took limited air resources from one task to another. The neutralisation of Malta, protection of convoys in the Mediterranean, patrols over the extended desert line of communications and close support of the Panzer Army Afrika could not all be delivered simultaneously by the overstretched Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica units in the Mediterranean theatre.

These structural problems were complicated by organisational tensions between the Italian and German components of the Panzer Army Afrika. The Italian Commando Supremo controlled the movement of shipping across the Mediterranean, and only the German military attaché in Rome, General von Rintelen, had any influence over its decisions. Kesselring, the Luftwaffe’s Commander-in-Chief South, was involved solely in questions of air and naval protection for convoys and ports. The Panzer Army could submit priority lists for supplies but had no say in where the cargo was delivered or the ratio of German and Italian supplies carried.

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-658 attacked Allied convoy PG-6 between Cuba and Haiti at 0619 hours, sinking Egyptian ship Samir, sinking British ship Fort la Reine (3 were killed, 41 survived), and damaging British merchant ship Laguna (all aboard survived).

German submarine U-83 sank Canadian troopship Princess Marguerite 50 miles north of Port Said, Egypt at 1408 hours; 49 were killed, 1,083 survived.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Safari sank Italian sailing vessel Ausonia with her deck gun 10 miles south of Sardinia, Italy.

In Operation Baritone, British carrier HMS Furious launched 32 Spitfire fighters for Malta; 2 of them were lost during takeoff. The carrier HMS Furious then returned to Gibraltar.

Don River , Russia : Sixth German Army came up against the first Soviet defensive lines west of Stalingrad on August 17.

Caucasian Front , Russia : German Army Group A established bridgeheads across the Kuban River, capturing power stations at Yessentuki and Pyatigorsk. 79nd Jager Corps reached the high valleys of the Caucasus mountains, occupying Kislovodsk, and prepared to climb, as an act of athletic if not military prowess, the 18,000-foot peak of Mount Elbruz.

Rouen , France : The US Eighth Air Force launched its first “All-American” air raid over Europe with 12 B-17E Flying Fortress bombers escorted by four squadrons of Spitfire fighters attacking rail marshalling yards at Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France. Interruption by German fighters caused the damage to be minimal.

Overall, it was a good star for Eighth US Air Force – the heavy bombers flew over together, dropping their loads from 23,000 feet and fairly accurately too. The rail network at Rouen was certainly put out of action for a while. One German Bf 109 fighter was shot down by gunners of bombers. The experience did, however, make one of US bomber pilots Lt. Burbridge realize how under-prepared they were for war. ‘We had a cover of RAF Spitfires,’ he said, ‘but otherwise, I reckon we’d all have been dead.’

USAAF finally putting their theory of daylight bombing raids for precision bombing on enemy targets with long range four engined and heavily armed B-127 bombers with which US Army Airforce , claim that they can beat off enemy fighters by defensive fire from high attitude formations. However RAF is very skwptical since they tried same thing in the beginning of war and failed.

General Ira Eaker , USAAF personally participated in the first American B-17 bombing mission against a continental European target, Rouen, France.

Germany : 139 British bombers from RAF Bomber Command attacked Osnabrück, Germany, destroying 77 houses and 4 military buildings, killing 7 people, and wounding 15 people; 5 bombers were lost on this mission.

Poland : 1,700 Jews are massacred in the Polish village of Łomazy by SS Reserve Police Battalion 101.

Isaruva , Kokoda Track , Papua New Guinea : As veteran Second Australian Imperial Force formations including Brigadier Arnold Potts’ 21st Brigade arrived from Australia to reinforce 39th Militia Battalion.

On 17 August, at Isurava, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Honner took command of the 39th Infantry Battalion, replacing its previous commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Owen, who had been killed in the fighting around Kokoda. The Militia soldiers of Maroubra Force were later reinforced by two 2nd AIF battalions from the 21st Australian Infantry Brigade – the 2/14th and 2/16th Infantry Battalions – under Brigadier Arnold Potts. The 21st Infantry Brigade was a veteran formation, having fought in the Middle East earlier in the war, but was yet to be tested in jungle conditions. Despite the urgency of the situation, the two 2nd AIF battalions did not deploy forward of Myola immediately due to the supply situation, and would not reach Isurava until after the battle had commenced.

Rabaul , New Britain : The arm-wrestle over Guadalcanal would increasingly draw Japanese attention and supplies away from New Guinea. More immediately, General Horii was continuing to have reservations about the viability of MO Operation. He advised the Rabaul chief of staff, Major-General Futami, that prisoner-of-war interrogation had revealed there were 20,000 Allied troops now stationed in Port Moresby. Futami, in reply, remarked on Horii’s lack of confidence that he could defeat 20,000 enemy and suggested that the figure was an overestimate anyway. Horii was also concerned about the supply plan. He didn’t believe there were sufficient carriers to get the attack force to Moresby and was counting on supplementing supplied provisions with whatever could be gleaned from local villages, abandoned army camps and from Port Moresby when they reached it. He warned Army HQ in Tokyo of this calculated risk but got no meaningful response.

Makin Atoll , Gilbert Islands , SW Pacific : During 17-18 August midnight , 211 men of the US 2nd MarineRaider Battalion landed and attacked Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands; it was the first amphibious assault ever launched from submarines (USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut). First marine detachments captured and destroyed Japanese radio station but afterwards failed to find any other important target.

Thirty US Marines in total lost their lives in what one American General, Holland M. Smith, was later to call a ‘piece of folly’, serving as it did to encourage the Japanese to fortify the Gilbert Islands, making their subsequent capture more costly than it might have been. The Americans withdrew a few days later. Nine of the raiders would be left behind by mistake; they were captured, were brought to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, and were executed.

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18 August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine pack Blucher continued to stak convoy Sierra Leone SL-118. One of the escort destroyers HMS Felixstone escorting the convoy located German submarine U-333 with Huff/Duff radio triangulation apparatus , attacked her with depth charges and damaged U-333 so badly she had to abort back to France.

By the morning of August 18, the convoy had reached a point about 600 miles south of England. This placed it within range of the B-24 Liberators of RAF Coastal Command Squadron 120. The squadron leader, Terence Bulloch, flew the first mission. U-333, which was aborting, and U-566, which was attempting to haul ahead of the convoy, both reported attacks by “land-based” bombers, but the damage to both boats was only “slight.”

In the afternoon of August 18, Captain Günther Reeder in the VIID minelayer submarine U-214 got in to carry out a submerged daylight attack. He fired a full bow salvo of four torpedoes into the formation, claiming four ships sunk for 20,000 tons. In actuality, he sank two big freighters , Dutch cargo ship Belingkar and British cargo ship Hatarana for 13,800 tons and damaged the 10,100-ton armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire, which was saved and towed to port. Reeder reported that “land-based” aircraft prevented him from hauling ahead for a second attack.

One of the B-24 Liberators, piloted by Squadron Leader Terry Bulloch, caught U-653 on the surface and attacked her with six depth charges and two bombs. The close blasts knocked a crewman overboard and drove the boat under with “severe” damage, the second U-boat (after U-89) Bulloch had seriously damaged in as many days. Upon receiving radio report of U-653 report later in the evening, Kerneval ordered him to give all the fuel he could spare to the Type VIIs U-406 and U-566 and then to abort. U-653 limped into Brest on August 31. The boat was out of action for two months.

U-590 got contact on the convoy, but the escorts drove him under and put his radio out of commission. Another boat relayed his request to Kerneval for authority to abort. Kerneval directed U-590 to stay put and if at all possible, to attack, but nothing came of these orders. Unable to communicate or repair the radio, U-590 aborted, arriving in St. Nazaire on August 23. After hurried repairs, she resailed four days later.

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-553 attacked Allied convoy TAW-13 close to the coast of southeastern Cuba, torpedoed and sinking British merchant ship Emipre Bede at 0559 hours (2 were killed, 43 survived), US merchant ship John Hancock at 0913 hours (all 49 aboard survived), and Swedish merchant ship Blankaholm at 0913 hours (5 were killed, 23 survived).

Bay of Biscay , France : German anti aircraft ship V-406 Hans Loh struck a mine and sank

South East England : Operation Jubilee , the Dieppe Raid , launched.

In the aftermath of the Dunkirk evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in May 1940, the British started on the development of a substantial raiding force under the umbrella of Combined Operations Headquarters. This was accompanied by the development of techniques and equipment for amphibious warfare. In late 1941, a scheme was put forward for the landing of 12 divisions around Le Havre, assuming a withdrawal of German troops to counter Soviet success in the east. From this came Operation Rutter to test the feasibility of capturing a port by an opposed landing, the investigation of the problems of operating the invasion fleet and testing equipment and techniques of the assault.

Dieppe, a coastal town in the Seine-Inférieure department of France, is built along a long cliff that overlooks the English Channel. The River Scie is on the western end of the town and the River Arques flows through the town and into a medium-sized harbour. In 1942, the Germans had demolished some seafront buildings to aid in coastal defence and had set up two large artillery batteries at Berneval-le-Grand and Varengeville-sur-Mer. One important consideration for the planners was that Dieppe to be picked up as a target was within range of the RAF’s fighter aircraft.

There was also intense pressure from the Soviet government to open a second front in Western Europe. By early 1942, the Wehrmacht’s Operation Barbarossa had clearly failed to destroy the Soviet Union. However, the Germans in a much less ambitious summer offensive launched in June, were deep into southern Soviet territory, pushing toward Stalingrad. Joseph Stalin himself repeatedly demanded that the Allies create a second front in France to force the Germans to move at least 40 divisions away from the Eastern Front to remove some of the pressure put on the Red Army in the Soviet Union.

The proposed Allied landing on continental Europe in 1943, Operation Roundup, was considered impractical by military planners, and the alternative of landing in 1942, Operation Sledgehammer, even more difficult. The British had been engaged with the Italians and the Germans in the Western Desert campaign since June 1940. At the Second Washington Conference in June 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to postpone the cross-English Channel invasion and schedule Operation Torch, the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa, for later that year. In the interim, a large-scale Canadian-led raid on the French coast was intended to take some of the pressure off the Soviet Union.

The objective of the raid was discussed by Winston Churchill in his war memoirs:

“I thought it most important that a large-scale operation should take place this summer, and military opinion seemed unanimous that until an operation on that scale was undertaken, no responsible general would take the responsibility of planning the main invasion …In discussion with Admiral Mountbatten it became clear that time did not permit a new large-scale operation to be mounted during the summer (after Rutter had been cancelled), but that Dieppe could be remounted (with the new code-name “Jubilee”) within a month, provided extraordinary steps were taken to ensure secrecy. For this reason, no records were kept but, after the Canadian authorities and the Chiefs of Staff had given their approval, I personally went through the plans with the C.I.G.S., Admiral Mountbatten, and the Naval Force Commander, Captain J. Hughes-Hallett.”

On the directive of Winston Churchill, Louis Mountbatten was recalled from a strategic visit to the United States in 1941 and instated in a new position as Adviser on Combined Operations of the British Army, later to be promoted to the post of ‘Chief of Combined Operations’ on 4th March 1942.

Mountbatten was well known for his chivalry and charming abilities, however he lacked experience in terms of actual warfare. Even before taking up this role, Mountbatten had faced a rough patch at sea captaining destroyer HMS Kelly (which was sunk off Crete in May 1941) , where his performance was so below par that Dennis Healey, a senior to Mountbatten then in the Ministry of Defence remarked: “but his birth saved him from the court martial any other officer would have faced”.

Despite his shortcomings, Mountbatten played an important role in the planning of the whole operation. The Dieppe raid was intended as an experiment and was initially planned to take place at the end of June 1942. Preparations were in full swing with two rehearsals taking place in Bridgport on 13th and 23rd June respectively. However, bad weather delayed the operation by three weeks. This made the Chiefs of Staff uneasy thinking that the Germans would have found out about the attack by then as the plan was no longer a secret to the more than 10,000 Allied troops who had been informed of it.

Mountbatten’s hubristic approach convinced the Generals to go ahead with the plan, which ultimately turned out to be catastrophic in the end. Although Churchill, Eisenhower and Mountbatten collectively staved off any blame for the outcome, Mountbatten bore the brunt of it. Mountbatten was reluctant to accept the blame and shifted it to peripheral reasons by passing apologetic and sometimes insensitive remarks. Alex Von Tunzelmann summarises his tendency in this scenario adeptly saying: “Mountbatten was happy to accept the attractive titles and smart uniforms of high office, but reluctant to take the responsibility along with the power”.

Operation Rutter was devised to satisfy several objectives, as a show of support for the Soviet Union, to provide an opportunity for the Canadian forces in Britain to engage the German Army and as a morale booster for the British public, among whom were vociferous supporters of a second front to give tangible support to the Red Army. From a military point of view, when the real invasion of Europe began, it would be important quickly to capture a port before the Germans could demolish the facilities or re-capture it by a counter-attack. The extent of the German fortification of French ports was uncertain and how organised an amphibious attack could be after a Channel crossing and how a surprise element could be achieved was also in doubt. Rutter could provide the experience that would be needed later in the war. Rutter was a combined operation, involving heavy bombers of RAF Bomber Command and the heavy ships of the Royal Navy to bombard German defences overlooking the beaches; parachute and glider troops would silence German heavy artillery commanding the approaches to the port. The main force of infantry and tanks would land and advance through the port to the outskirts and dig in to resist counter-attacks until it was time to withdraw and re-embark in their landing craft. The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was chosen for the operation and given three months’ specialist training in amphibious operations up to July. The Canadians assembled at embarkation ports and went aboard their ships, where the target was revealed. German aircraft spotting and bombing the assembled ships and inclement weather forced a delay in sailing and on 7 July, Rutter was cancelled and the troops disembarked. Instead by Mountbatten’s insistance it was delayed to mid August and renamed as Jubilee.

The Dieppe landings were planned on six beaches: four in front of the town itself, and two to the eastern and western flanks respectively. From east to west, the beaches were codenamed Yellow, Blue, Red, White, Green and Orange. No. 3 Commando would land on Yellow beach, the Royal Regiment of Canada on Blue. The main landings would take place on Red and White beaches by the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, the Essex Scottish Regiment, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, A Commando Royal Marines and the armour. The South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada would land on Green Beach, and No. 4 Commando on Orange.

Armoured support was provided by the 14th Army Tank Regiment (The Calgary Regiment (Tank)) with 58 of the newly introduced Churchill tanks in their first use in combat, to be delivered using the new landing craft tank (LCT). The Churchills, adapted to operate in the shallows near the beach, were a mix of types; some armed with a QF 2-pdr (40mm) gun in the turret and a close support 3-inch howitzer in the hull, some had the QF 6-pdr (57 mm), and three Churchills were equipped with flame-throwers. Engineers would use explosives to remove obstacles for the tanks.

The Royal Navy supplied 237 ships and landing craft. However, pre-landing naval gunfire support was limited, consisting of six Hunt-class destroyers each with four or six 4-inch (102 mm) guns. This was because of the reluctance of First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound to risk capital ships in an area he believed vulnerable to attacks by German aircraft. Mountbatten asked Pound to send a battleship in to provide fire support for the Dieppe raid but Pound was mindful that Japanese aircraft had sunk the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the battleship HMS Prince of Wales off Malaya in December 1941 and he would not risk capital ships into waters where the Allies did not have air supremacy.

Over the past eighteen months of inconclusive attritional engagements, Fighter Command had established a measure of air superiority within range of its fighters. Day incursions into British airspace had dwindled to the occasional pair of German fighter bombers racing across the Channel, dropping their bombs and racing back. At 06:15 on 7 July, two ships in the Solent, with troops for Rutter on board, were hit but the bombs failed to explode and passed through their hulls, causing only four casualties. German photographic reconnaissance was much more difficult, because adequate results required the aircraft to fly a set course and height. Repeat sorties once or twice a week were ideal for comparative analysis of photographs but the Luftwaffe could manage only one set of pictures a month. A partial reconnaissance was obtained from 28 to 31 July, after Rutter had been cancelled and not again until 24 August, five days after Jubilee. The air plan was to exploit the raid to force the Luftwaffe to fight on British terms and suffer a serious defeat; Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the commander of 11 Group Fighter Command was to command the air effort, for which 56 fighter squadrons, comprising Spitfire fighters, Hurricane fighter-bombers and Typhoon low-level interceptors.[d] Four Mustang Mk I squadrons of Army Cooperation Command were provided for long-range reconnaissance and a contingent of five bomber squadrons were to participate for smoke laying and tactical bombing. The landings could be expected to prompt a maximum effort by the Luftwaffe in Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, with about 250 fighters and 220 bombers.

Leigh-Mallory controlled the air battle from 11 Group headquarters at RAF Uxbridge; commands flowing through the system as normal to Sector control rooms and from there to the airfields.[28] An RAF officer from Hut 3 at Bletchley Park was seconded to the 11 Group Operations Room to filter material to the Y-stations at RAF Cheadle and RAF Kingsdown which intercepted Wireless telegraphy (W/T) and Radio telephony (R/T) transmissions and used direction finding to pinpoint the origin of the signals. The intention was to reduce the time to pass decryptions of material from German radar, observer posts and fighter control to 11 Group through “the most expert officer in Y on German Fighter Defence and its ramifications”. The Fighter Controllers on the Headquarters ship HMS Calpe and Berkeley could communicate with the raid fighter cover on a shared frequency. The “Close Support” fighters checked in with the headquarters ship as they approached so the Fighter Controller could direct them onto alternative targets as required.

On 29 June, 2 Group, Bomber Command, was ordered to send sixteen Douglas Bostons each from 88 Squadron and 107 Squadron from their East Anglian bases to RAF Ford in West Sussex; 226 Squadron, with its long range Bostons, was to stand by at its base for Operation Rutter. From 4 July, aircraft were to be maintained at thirty minutes readiness to fly Circus operations against German road transport and any tanks that appeared. For speed the crews were briefed in advance and were to have a final briefing at their airfield dispersals just before take-off. The operation was cancelled after two assault ships were bombed by the Luftwaffe. On 14 August, 2 Group was notified that the raid on Dieppe was back on as Operation Jubilee.

Allied intelligence on the area was sparse: there were dug-in German gun positions on the cliffs, but these had not been detected or spotted by air reconnaissance photographers. The planners had assessed the beach gradient and its suitability for tanks only by scanning holiday snapshots, which led to an underestimation of the German strength and of the terrain. The outline plan for the abortive Operation Rutter (which became the basis for Operation Jubilee) stated that "intelligence reports indicate that Dieppe is not heavily defended and that the beaches in the vicinity are suitable for landing infantry, and armoured fighting vehicles at some.

The Germans were aware that the Allies might launch a large-scale amphibious operation some time in summer 1942. In July, Supreme Commander in the West Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt wrote an assessment which concluded that paratroops were to be expected, as well as a large Allied fighter and bomber force. Rundstedt wrote that “at the point of landing, the enemy will win command of the air. He will then use the bulk of his air forces against defences on the ground … The enemy – in order to achieve an attack en masse – will use all the aircraft he has, even slower types”.

In August, German forces at Dieppe were on high alert, having been warned by French double agents that the British were showing interest in the area. They had also detected increased radio traffic and landing craft being concentrated in the southern British coastal ports. Dieppe and the flanking cliffs were well defended; the 1,500-strong garrison from the 302nd Static Infantry Division comprised the Infantry Regiments 570, 571 and 572, each of two battalions, the 302nd Artillery Regiment, the 302nd Reconnaissance Battalion, the 302nd Anti-tank Battalion, the 302nd Engineer Battalion and 302nd Signal Battalion. They were deployed along the beaches of Dieppe and the neighbouring towns, covering all the likely landing places. The city and port were protected by heavy artillery on the main approach (particularly in the myriad cliff caves) and with a reserve at the rear. The defenders were stationed in the towns and in intervening open areas and highlands that overlooked the beaches. Elements of the 571st Infantry Regiment defended the Dieppe radar station near Pourville and the artillery battery over the Scie river at Varengeville. To the east, the Infantry Regiment 570 was deployed near the artillery battery at Berneval-le-Grand.

On the night of 18/19 August, RAF Coastal Command carried out anti-surface vessel (ASV) patrols of the coast from Boulogne to Cherbourg; after sunrise the patrols were carried out by fighters. The Allied fleet left the south coast of England during the night, preceded by minesweepers from Newhaven clearing paths through the English Channel, followed by the flotilla of eight destroyers and accompanying Motor Gun Boats escorting the landing craft and Motor Launches.

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18 August 1942 (cont.)

El Alamein , Egypt : El Alamein , Egypt : Re organisation and retraining of Eighth Army was in full speed. Auk’s expert on armoured forces, Major-General Dick McCreery, had strongly disagreed with the Auk and found himself out of a job as a result. When General Alexander arrived, McCreery was waiting for a passage home. He had been Alex’s chief staff officer when he’d commanded 1st Division and he rated him highly as a staff officer and field commander, and so Alex promptly made him his Chief of Staff. Another to survive the cull was Major-General John Harding, the Auk’s Director of Military Training (DMT). Harding had been summoned to see ‘the C-in-C’ on 12 August and had hurried to the Auk’s office only to discover Monty sitting behind his desk and Alex sitting on it, drumming his heels against it. Harding as instructed began to create an elite corps d’chasse made of armored divisions ,newly created 10th Corps.

There was about a week between General Alexander’s arrival and his taking over of the reins as C-in-C Middle East. Initially put up in the British Embassy in Cairo, he spent his first few days there looking around and taking in the atmosphere. He wasn’t altogether impressed with what he saw. There seemed to be too many troops in Cairo for starters, and although they looked fit and tough, it struck him that they lacked the usual air of confidence he had come to associate with British soldiers. Talking to a number of officers, this impression was confirmed. ‘They were bewildered, frustrated, fed up,’ he noted. Churchill may have found the Eighth Army in good spirits when he arrived on frst week of August , ‘but who wouldn’t cheer up at the sight of Winston and his cigar?’ And he was also troubled to hear that most believed there would be another withdrawal next time the Axis attacked in strength. The awe with which Rommel was regarded had been endemic for some time, but Alex was appalled. ‘That legend contributed a lot to the Eighth Army’s widespread belief in the invincibility of the Afrika Korps,’ he observed, and while he accepted that the German commander clearly had his strong points, ‘it was hardly necessary to attribute to him preternatural gifts in order to explain his successes’.

Another thing that struck Alex was that the whole of Middle East Command operated from within Alexandria – a city where there were restaurants, clubs, Red Light district and a thousand other distractions. While troops on leave needed these welcome delights, Alex considered GHQ to be far too divorced from the battlefield. He remembered that during the First World War their superior commanders had been housed in luxurious chateaux, with little understanding of the conditions of the front-line soldier. He was determined not to make the same mistake, and so as soon as he took over he set up his own HQ with key members of both his operational and administrative staff in a series of bell tents and caravans – ‘simplicity itself’ – just west of the Pyramids near Mena. There, he and his staff could get a feel for the desert; moreover, it marked the beginning of the desert road that led to the front. Alex christened his new HQ ‘Caledon Camp’ after his family home back in Ireland.

Already then Montgomery had gained the initial approval of his command and he now set out to follow up his success by embarking on what the Official History calls ‘a strenuous programme of tours and visits’ in order to ‘impress his personality’ on his men. As one means to this end, he acquired an Australian slouch hat, onto which he stuck the badges of the units he visited; it was later replaced by the famous black beret. His action delighted the troops at the time, aroused the wrath of the pompous later and was comparatively unimportant in the long term. After being handed an Australian slouch hat, he took to collecting hats wherever he went. He questioned the men about their positions and equipment. If the answers were unsatisfactory, officers were liable to be sacked. He would be heard to say, ‘He must go. He must go at once!’ and next day the officer would have disappeared. Montgomery wanted everyone to know his part. The troops rehearsed taking up their battle positions time and time again. A printed leaflet was prepared explaining what the coming battle was about and handed to all the men.

After the retreat from Dunkirk, Montgomery’s military career had been confined to the south coast of Britain, but it had made him strongly aware of public opinion on the home front and of the difference between a core force of career veterans and the civilian conscripts who formed the growing bulk of the Eighth Army. With his inimitable combination of chutzpah and conviction, Montgomery embarked on a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to win the personal allegiance of the men under his command. Appreciating more clearly than his predecessors that the soldiers needed sound reasons to put their lives on the line, he was confident that they were biddable. But they had to know ‘what was going on, and what you want to do – and why, and when … and that [their] best interests will be absolutely secure in your hands … If all these things are understood by the military leader, and he acts accordingly, he will find it is not difficult to gain the trust and confidence of such men.’

Driving from unit to unit, he soon made himself known to the officers and men of all ranks. His eccentric but highly visible attire – the Australian slouch-hat or the tank-beret, and the regimental badges with which they were bedecked – made him easy to distinguish in a khaki crowd. This did not always make the impact he may have wished. ‘He was wearing this Australian hat, with all the badges that were around the brim, and a pair of “Bombay bloomers”’ – K[haki] D[rill] shorts, which were a lot wider than normal,’ Sergeant James Frazer, serving in the Royal Tank Regiment, noted. ‘Now, dressed in that hat and shorts, and with his thin legs, he looked like matchsticks in a pair of boots. Very high-pitched voice – and he didn’t look like a general at all.

’However, he not only drove through the ranks but he stopped to talk to the men, both en masse and one to one, as though he were a politician campaigning for votes. ‘Montgomery came to the southern sector … and one of the first things he asked was, when did we leave England and had we had any post?’ Sergeant John Longstaff noted. ‘Not a single soldier had had a letter. Had we any NAAFI? (canteen service) We hadn’t even seen the NAAFI. We were scrounging what we could from other units – cigarettes – and understandably, other units weren’t prepared to give them away or even sell them.’

When Montgomery showed a concern for the welfare of his men, he made a lasting impression. ‘He wanted to know why our shirts were stained – because we had only one shirt and there was sweat – and they were hard, like bloody cardboard,’ Longstaff recalled. ‘He wanted to know if we’d had any leave. Nobody had had any leave at that stage. He made sure his adjutants took note of everything. He wasn’t talking to the officers – he was talking to the riflemen – he was sitting inside little dugouts with the lads.’

In Egypt, Montgomery sent out a stream of orders while Churchill was on Moscow. The elderly Valentine, Crusader, and Grant tanks of 22nd, 23rd, and 8th Armoured Brigades will be used as mobile artillery fighting alongside the infantry from hull-down positions on Alam el Halfa and lure panzer divisions into prepared killing zones. These brigades will support 44th Home Countries and 2nd NZ Divisions. 13th Corps, which controls these outfits, got a new boss, a mercurial protege of Montgomery named Brian Horrocks. With help of Eighth Army Chief of Engineers Brig. Kitsch , Monty also began deploying stretches of dummy minfields, dummy tank battalions, and dummy infantry, to fool the Germans.

The Eighth Army felt the new broom. Montgomery himself went around to as many commands as possible, to explain the situation. His fiery speeches and visible presence boost morale, as does his casual dress and intolerance of buck-passing.

“He (Monty) told us everything,” said RSM Vladimir Peniakoff (who later founded of Eighth Army’s oddest special forces outfits, Popski’s Private Army), "what his plan was for the battle, what he wanted the regiments to do, what he wanted me to do. And we will do it, sir. What a man!" (of course Monty did not tell them but told them what was expected of them and how things would be afterwards , a big sign of confidence especially when those predictions came true)

Captain Charles Kennedy Craufurd-Stuart, serving in the 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles, welcomed Monty’s “ruthless and magnetic personality.” Montgomery dropped in on Brig. Howard Kippenberger’s 5th New Zealand Brigade at Alam Nayil ridge. Kippenberger was astonished to meet an Army commander who is more interested in fighting than making sure officers wear their Sam Browne belts properly. According to Kippenberger , Monty spoke “sharply and curtly, without any soft words, asked some searching questions, met the battalion commanders and left me feeling very much stimulated." Monty told Kippenberger that 5th Brigade is here to fight, and there is no question of retirement to prepared positions or anywhere else. Kippenberger was impressed.

Equally delighted were the Australians, whom Montgomery visited on August 14. There at the 9th Australian Division’s Headquarters, he informed them of “three principal points.” These were that Eighth Army would cease “looking over the shoulder” and would “stand and fight in its present position.” Next the “formation of battle groups was to cease.” Lastly, although the Australians looked “brown and fit,” this was deceptive. They, like every other unit in the Eighth Army, “required toughening and hardening and units required training.” Every opportunity was to be taken to “harden the men and to raise the standard of training in units.” The Australians recorded how Montgomery’s message was received:

“The effect of the new policy was quickly apparent. General relief and satisfaction were felt when it became known that the enemy was to be met and fought in the prepared positions then held. Confidence and morale increased rapidly. From the first day of its arrival in the desert, the breaking up of the division and its formation into battle groups with inadequate fire resources and lacking the advantage of the normal system of command and control had been strenuously and continuously opposed. For these reasons the new policy was most welcome.”

On 18th August 1942 , before flying back to London , Winston Churchill along with General Alan Brooke wanted to make another inspection of Middle East Command in Egypt. More by force of personality than originality of thought, Montgomery seized the moment to stamp his mark. One of his new personal appointees, arrived on 17th August and recruited to take command of 13th Corps, General Brian Horrocks – later to acquire renown as a ‘television general’ on account of his popular BBC documentaries – described his first briefing by Montgomery. ‘One of the most remarkable military appreciations I ever heard,’ he recalled. ‘Remember he had arrived in Egypt only five days before; yet in this short space of time he had acquired a complete grip of the situation.’ Since his days as a member of the Directing Staff at Staff College, Montgomery had kept a ‘black book’ filled with the names of officers who had impressed him. Indeed, he saw such patronage and the ‘bringing on’ of officers as an important role for a senior officer. Brian Horrocks had commanded the machine-gun battalion in 3rd Division in France and Montgomery had seen to it that he had been given successively a brigade and then a division.

General Alan Brooke , Imperial Chief of Staff was similarly impressed by the speed with which Montgomery absorbed the military complexities of the battlefield and the clarity of his purpose. ‘I was dumbfounded by the rapidity with which he grasped the situation facing him, the ability with which he had grasped the essentials, the clarity of his plans, and above all his unbounded self-confidence.’

It was this quality that most affected Churchill on his return to Cairo from his meeting with Stalin. After landing on Cairo on 18th August as he drove with Alex along the desert road , he saw troops and equipment heading forward, and was cheered by all that his new C-in-C told him about the changes that had already been made. The Prime Minister, always impatient for offensive action, had chastised the Auk countless times for his refusal to bow to his demands. This was not why Churchill had sacked him, but it was a contributing factor. But as they motored west, Alex told him that the new offensive would not be ready until the end of September, and that was without taking into account the effect of the blow they could imminently expect from Rommel. Even this news was absorbed by the PM with equanimity.

On 19 August, accompanied by Alexander, he drove through the desert to Eighth Army headquarters, which Montgomery had moved back from Ruweisat Ridge to Borg el Arab, which would co-locate him with the RAF’s headquarters close to sea. Displaying a solicitous concern for the Prime Minister’s well-being, Montgomery put his own caravan, complete with office, bedroom and bathroom, at Churchill’s disposal. Churchill certainly preferred his new headquarters, ‘drawn up amid the sand-dunes by the sparkling waves’ After a ‘delicious’ bathe in the Mediterranean – within sight of a thousand or so suprised Eighth Army soldiers similarly disporting themselves naked in the waves and amused to see their prime minister among themselves in same non attire and swimming – they repaired to Montgomery’s map room where, according to Churchill, they were given ‘a masterly exposition of the situation, showing that in a few days he had firmly grasped the whole problem’. The contrast with Auchinleck’s last briefing to the Prime Minister could not have been greater.

The following day, Churchill visited the battle positions of 22nd Armoured Brigade. Although he was impressed by Brigadier Roberts and his 22nd Armored Brigade and delighted to inspect soldiers from his old regiment, the 4th Hussars, the Prime Minister was far from impressed by Horrocks. The 13th Corps commander was perhaps rather too honest in explaining to Churchill the static battle that Montgomery had planned. Horrocks explained that while 22nd Armoured Brigade repulsed the German thrust, the forces of 7th Armoured Division would strike at the Axis soft transport – what Horrocks called a case of ‘dog eat rabbit’. Churchill gruffly retorted: ‘That’s no good . . . Trouble with you generals is that you are defensive minded. Why don’t you attack? That’s the way to win battles, not by sitting down in defence.’ Churchill had once again revealed his ignorance of military affairs but it was fortunate for Montgomery that Horrocks drew the sting of the Prime Minister’s dislike. Any ire that Churchill may have had for the passive plan of battle was smoothed away by Montgomery’s special orders to the army. Ian Jacob noted:

“The Prime Minister was particularly pleased with two special orders which had been issued to the Eighth Army by Monty; and he gave instructions that they should be circulated to the Cabinet on his return. They certainly are the most inspiriting documents and it is quite clear who means to be master in the desert.”

The soldiers of Eighth Army would appear to have been less impressed but there is no question that Montgomery had made his presence felt.

After a whistle-stop tour of the front, Churchill claimed to have detected ‘the reviving ardour of the Army. Everybody said what a change there had been since Montgomery had taken command. I could feel the truth of this with joy and comfort.’

Prime Minister was “so uplifted” by the changes he witnessed, he could not sleep. Meeting with as many soldiers as possible, Churchill sensed “the reviving ardour of the Army.” He cabled to his War Cabinet on August 21 that “a complete change of atmosphere has taken place.” No longer was Eighth Army “oppressed by a sense of bafflement and uncertainty” or “heading for disaster.” Churchill concluded his report with a ringing endorsement of the Army’s leadership: “I am satisfied that we have lively, confident, resolute men in command, working together as an admirable team under leaders of the highest military quality. Before he left for London, the Prime Minister went out of his way to emphasise the surpassing importance to him of the coming struggle, telling a press conference, ‘We are determined to fight for Egypt and the Nile Valley as if it were the soil of England itself.’

”Montgomery had taken little time to outwardly transform a defeated and bewildered army. Touring around the front line in mid-August, General Harold Alexander also “paid particular attention to the morale and bearing of the troops.” He concurred with Churchill’s assessment that Eighth Army had been “brave but baffled” before Montgomery’s arrival. In just over two weeks, after taking command, Montgomery’s Eighth Army would be put to the test of battle. It remained to be seen whether Montgomery’s impact had been deep enough to shake Eighth Army out of its sense of inferiority and befuddlement.

The mood on the other side of the Alamein line was very different. Rommel was anxious and despondent. He knew that he was in a precarious position: that with the Eighth Army being rapidly replenished on an unprecedented scale but his own supplies beginning to run dangerously low, it would be impossible for the Panzer Army to stay put for very much longer. Rommel’s nightmare was a ‘mechanised static warfare with a stabilised front, because this was just what the British officers and men had been trained for’.

Mediterranean Sea : With arrival of fuel aboard Ohio , 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta began active operations to interdict Axis naval supply lines in Mediterranean again.

By using Signals intelligence based on Enigma decryptions , Royal Navy submarine HMS United intercepted and attacked an Axis convoy 45 miles south of Pantellaria island, Italy and then torppedoed and sank Italian transport Rosolino Pilo which was full of ammunition and supplies en route to Afrikakorps; the resulting explosion caused HMS United to become damaged and abort her patrol back to Malta.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Safari torpedoed and sank Italian freighter Perseo 10 miles south of Sardinia, Italy.

Don River , Russia : In Stalingrad Oblast, Soviet forces withdrew southwest of Kletskaya while the Germans renewed their offensive northeast of Kotelnikovo.

Caucasian Front , Russia : German troops from 17th German Army assaulted Novorossiysk and Tuapse on the Black Sea coast in southern Russia. 100 kilometers to the northeast, German 1st Panzer Army captured Krasnodar.

Berlin , Germany : Adolf Hitler issues further orders to crush Soviet partisan operations in East.

Buna , Papua New Guinea : Two Japanese transports arrived at Buna, Australian Papua and disembarked reinforcements for Japanese South Seas Force advancing on Kokoda Track

Guadalcanal , SW Pacific : Six Japanese destroyers delivered 916 troops under command of Lt. Col Ichilki (generally known as Ichiki Detachment) to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands; about 400 of them were of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Japanese Infantry Regiment who landed at Taivu Point, while the other about 500 were of the Yokosuka 5th Special Naval Landing Force who landed at Kokumbona; this was the first Japanese reinforcement of Guadalcanal by warships. Tokyo Express started.

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I want anyone to take attention about on how sloppily and hastily Operation Jubilee (Dieppe raid) was planned and prepared and in contrast how well organisation , planning and finally proper leadership taking root in Eighth Army at Egypt for incoming Alam el Halfa and Second Battle of Alamein.

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19 August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-507 stopped Brazilian sailing vessel Jacyra at 0530 hours, forced her crew of six man crew to abandon ship, and scuttled her at 0800 hours with charges. At 0907 hours, U-510 torpedoed and sank British merchant ship Cressington Court 200 miles off French Guiana; 8 were killed, 36 survived.

Off Azores , Blucher wolfpack attack on Convoy Sierra Leone SL-118 continues. German submarine U-406 attacked Allied convoy SL-118 450 miles west of Portugal at 1622 hours, fatally damaging and sinking British cargo ship City of Manila with torpedoes; 1 was killed, 95 survived.

Caribbean Sea , Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-162 attacked an Allied convoy 40 miles west of Grenada, torpedoed and sinking US cargo ship West Celina at 0437 hours (1 was killed, 43 survived); at 1007 hours, U-564 joined in on the attack, torpedoed and sinking British cargo ship Empire Cloud (3 were killed, 51 survived) and British tanker British Consul (2 were killed, 40 survived).

German submarine U-217 sank British sailing vessel Sea Gull D. with her deck gun 75 miles southeast of Bonaire island in the southern Caribbean Sea at 2112 hours; 3 were killed, 71 survived.

Dieppe , France : 5,000 Canadian troops, 1,000 British Commandos, 50 US Rangers, and 58 British Churchill tanks landed at Dieppe, France at 0500 hours in Operation Jubilee via 9 landing ships, covered by 8 destroyers, many smaller warships, and many aircraft. British and Americans were successful in destroying a German battery near Varengeville, but British and Canadian troops on a nearby beach were pinned down, suffering 1,179 killed before the mission’s end. As German aircraft counterattacked, British destroyer HMS Berkeley and several smaller ships were sunk. The operation was called off by 1100 hours in dismal failure. 2,190 Allied troops were captured along with all of the tanks and heavy equipment. The British RAF lost 106 aircraft. The Germans suffered only 311 killed and 48 aircraft shot down in the defense.

On the night of 18/19 August, RAF Coastal Command carried out anti-surface vessel (ASV) patrols of the coast from Boulogne to Cherbourg; after sunrise the patrols were carried out by fighters. The Allied fleet left the south coast of England during the night, preceded by minesweepers from Newhaven clearing paths through the English Channel, followed by the flotilla of eight destroyers and accompanying Motor Gun Boats escorting the landing craft and Motor Launches.

The initial landings began at 04:50 on 19 August, with attacks on the artillery batteries on the flanks of the main landing area. These were Varengeville – Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (known as Orange Beach) by No. 4 Commando, Pourville (Green Beach) by the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, Puys (Blue Beach) by the Royal Regiment of Canada, and Berneval (Yellow Beach) by No. 3 Commando. On their way in, the landing craft and escorts heading towards Puys and Berneval ran into and exchanged fire with a small German convoy at 03:48. The Allied destroyers HMS Brocklesby and ORP Ślązak noticed the engagement, but their commanders incorrectly assumed that the landing craft had come under fire from the shore batteries and did not come to their rescue.

Yellow Beach : No. 3 Commando was assigned the task of attacking the Goebbels Battery, landing on the eastern flank, under Durnford-Slater’s command. The battery was located near Berneval-le-Grand, about half a mile from the sea with steep cliffs in front of it. It was decided that No. 3 Commando would land on two beaches to the east and west of the battery, from which gullies rose towards the battery and which would provide concealment while the Commandos approached the battery

As the convoy of landing craft and other vessels ferried the Commandos across the English Channel; however, they had a chance encounter with a German tanker escorted by a number of armed trawlers which proceeded to fire upon them. In the confusion that followed a number of the landing craft were damaged and forced to turn back, while others were reported as missing and believed sunk. As a result the decision was made to abandon the attack.

Nevertheless, unbeknown to their commanders and each other, and having lost communications, the seven landing craft that had been reported missing made for their assigned beaches, determined to press on with the attack. In the end two parties landed, one party consisting of six craft carrying approximately 120 men under Captain R.L Willis landed on the beach opposite Le Petit Berneval to the east of the battery—Yellow I—while the other, consisting of only one craft of 20 men from No. 6 Troop under Captain Peter Young landed to the west at Yellow II.

Of the 120 men that landed at Yellow I, 37 were killed, 81 were captured, mostly after having been wounded, and just one managed to evade capture and return to Britain.[28] Among those that were killed was Lieutenant Edward Loustalot, a United States Army Ranger, who was the first American soldier to be killed in the European theatre of operations. The smaller party, under Young, however, fared better and managed to advance within 200 yards (180 m) of the battery, however, due to lack of numbers they were unable to launch an assault on the battery and instead proceeded to harass the gunners for a number of hours and distract them from their purpose of firing on the anchorage before they were forced to withdraw back to their boats. They succeeded, albeit briefly, to divert the guns from their task of firing on the ships off the coast.

Orange Beach : No. 4 Commando made the crossing to Dieppe on board HMS Prins Albert. The crossing was uneventful and at 04:50 just before daybreak Group one landed unopposed.[33] Using two Bangalore torpedoes to blow a hole in the barbed wire, they managed to scale the cliffs. As they approached the battery at 05:45 it opened fire on the main landing force coming ashore at Dieppe. This was 30 minutes before Group one was expected to be in a position but Mills-Roberts responded by speeding up the advance to get their guns into action sooner. Once in position they opened fire on the battery with their mortars, Bren machine guns and sniper rifles. One of the mortar bombs landed inside the battery and exploded the stored charges, putting the guns out of action.

Group two had an opposed landing being greeted by machine gun fire from the two pillboxes guarding the beach. Leaving a section from A Troop to deal with them the rest of the Group ran the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the rear of the battery, bypassing German infantry positions on the way. The A Troop section having finished off the pillboxes, set out for Orange one beach, ambushing a German patrol en route. While this was happening Lovat and the other two troops, were preparing to assault the battery from different directions. The men from B Troop approached from behind the anti-aircraft tower, as they could still see some Germans moving about on it, they detached three men to deal with them. At the same time they stumbled across and captured a machine gun post. At 06:15 the assault started, F Troop discovered a group of Germans forming up to put in their own assault on the fire base. Charging into them they were dispersed without loss to the commandos. The troop continued their advance, moving between some buildings and an orchard, when they were themselves caught in the open by heavy gun fire. Two men in the lead the troop commander Captain Pettiward and Lieutenant McDonald were killed while Troop Sergeant Major Stockdale was wounded. It was during this action that the already wounded Captain Porteous, acting as the liaison officer between the two groups was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The two Groups were in position, when a pre arranged strafing attack by the Royal Air Force commenced, this signalled an increasing in the rate of fire from Group one. At 06:30 a very flare fired by Lovat signalled the start of the assault. Group one ceased firing and B and F Troops charged the battery with bayonets fixed. The objective for B Troop was the battery buildings, while F Troop targeted the guns. Captain Porteous now commanding F Troop was wounded again, this time in the thigh but urged his men on. He was shot for the third time and passed out just as the guns were captured. Demolition experts from F Troop destroyed the guns with pre-formed charges while B Troop searched the battery buildings for intelligence materials. Carrying their wounded with them and escorting prisoners both troops withdrew through the fire base. Still in contact with the Germans both groups of commandos made it to Orange One beach and at 08:15 were taken off by the LCAs. They crossed the channel without incident arriving at Newhaven docks at 17:45 the same day.

For their part in the raid Lovat was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Mills-Roberts the Military Cross. The cost to the Commando was at first thought to be 23 dead but six were only severely wounded and were eventually reported to be prisoners of war. No. 4 Commandos’ assault on the battery was the only successful part of the whole operation. The War Office claimed it as “a classic example of the use of well trained infantry…and a thoroughness in planning, training and execution”

Blue Beach : The naval engagement between the small German convoy and the craft carrying No. 3 Commando had alerted the German defenders at Blue beach. The landing near Puys by the Royal Regiment of Canada plus three platoons from the Black Watch of Canada and an artillery detachment were tasked to neutralize machine gun and artillery batteries protecting this Dieppe beach. They were delayed by 20 minutes and the smoke screens that should have hidden their assault had already lifted. The advantages of surprise and darkness were thus lost, while the Germans had manned their defensive positions in preparation for the landings. The well-fortified German forces held the Canadian forces that did land on the beach. There was a twelve-foot-high sea wall, topped with barbed wire and studded by concrete pillboxes, from which machineguns covered the beach. All the defending troops were on high alert by the time the first Canadian landing craft came into view. Thomas Hunter was one of the first to make the shoreline:

“The raid was supposed to be in the dark, but we were delayed because a ship got tangled up. It was broad daylight as we approached the beach. They dropped the front and we jumped in. We were up to our chests in water, and I had to pull a buggy with the three-inch mortar and the mortar bombs up the beach.Machinegun fire swept through the men, cutting down one after another. We were slaughtered. We were up against cliffs either side, and no way out, pillboxes with machineguns at either end of the beach, machineguns just raking away killing everybody that came off the ships.”

"The guy who was pulling the buggy with me got shot, and I couldn’t pull it by myself because it weighed three hundred pounds, so I left it.Hunter crawled into a little niche in the cliffs and started aiming rifle fire at the tiny slits in the concrete pillboxes.Jimmy Elliot was firing into one and I faced another one, and we were just firing into them. We had rounds and rounds of ammunition, we just kept loading. I don’t know how they missed us. They were throwing grenades, one came near me but I threw it in the water. I was very calm. There’s nothing you can do about it, I told Elliot. ‘Can’t do much about it now, we’re stuck here, we’ll just survive as long as we can.’

“All along the beach men were lying wounded with medical orderlies bandaging them as best they could.We honestly didn’t expect to live. Just stay quiet and see what happens, I thought, and then, How did I get into this mess ?”

As soon as they reached the shore, the Canadians found themselves pinned against the seawall, unable to advance. With a German bunker placed to sweep along the back of the seawall, the Royal Regiment of Canada was annihilated. Of the 556 men in the regiment, 200 were killed and 264 captured.

Green Beach : On Green beach at the same time that No. 4 Commando had landed at Orange Beach, the South Saskatchewan Regiment’s 1st Battalion was headed towards Pourville. They beached at 04:52, without having been detected. The battalion managed to leave their landing craft before the Germans could open fire. However, on the way in, some of the landing craft had drifted off course and most of the battalion found themselves west of the River Scie rather than east of it. Because they had been landed in the wrong place, the battalion, whose objective was the hills east of the village and the Hindenburg Battery artillery, had to enter Pourville to cross the river by the only bridge. Before the Saskatchewans managed to reach the bridge, the Germans had positioned machine guns and anti-tank guns there which stopped their advance. With the battalion’s dead and wounded piling up on the bridge, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Merritt, the commanding officer, attempted to give the attack impetus by repeatedly and openly crossing the bridge, in order to demonstrate that it was feasible to do so. However, despite the assault resuming, the South Saskatchewans and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, who had landed beside them, were unable to reach their target. While the Camerons did manage to penetrate further inland than any other troops that day, they were also soon forced back as German reinforcements rushed to the scene. Both battalions suffered more losses as they withdrew; only 341 men were able to reach the landing craft and embark, and the rest were left to surrender. For his part in the battle, Lieutenant Colonel Merritt was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Pourville Radar Station : One of the objectives of the Dieppe Raid was to discover the importance and performance of a German radar station on the cliff-top to the east of the town of Pourville. To achieve this, RAF Flight Sergeant Jack Nissenthall, a radar specialist, was attached to the South Saskatchewan Regiment landing at Green Beach. He was to attempt to enter the radar station and learn its secrets, accompanied by a small unit of 11 men of the Saskatchewans as bodyguards. Nissenthall volunteered for the mission fully aware that, due to the highly sensitive nature of his knowledge of Allied radar technology, his Saskatchewan bodyguard unit was under orders to kill him to prevent him from being captured. He also carried a cyanide pill as a last resort.

After the war, Lord Mountbatten claimed to author James Leasor, when being interviewed during research for the book Green Beach, that “If I had been aware of the orders given to the escort to shoot him rather than let him be captured, I would have cancelled them immediately”. Nissenthall and his bodyguards failed to overcome the radar station defences but Nissenthall was able to crawl up to the rear of the station under enemy fire and cut all telephone wires leading to it. The operators inside resorted to radio to talk to their commanders which was intercepted by listening posts on the south coast of England. The Allies were able to learn a great deal about the improved accuracy, location, capacity and density of German radar stations along the Channel coast which helped to convince Allied commanders of the importance of developing radar jamming technology. Only Nissenthall and one South Saskatchewan of the party returned to England.

Red And White Beaches : Main Canadian landings : Preparing the ground for the main landings, four destroyers were bombarding the coast as landing craft approached. At 05:15, they were joined by five RAF Hurricane squadrons who bombed the coastal defences and set a smokescreen to protect the assault troops. Between 03:30, and 03:40, 30 minutes after the initial landings, the main frontal assault by the Essex Scottish and the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry started. Their infantry was meant to be supported by Churchill tanks of the 14th Army Tank Regiment landing at the same time, but the tanks arrived on the beach late. As a result, the two infantry battalions had to attack without armour support. They were met with heavy machine-gun fire from emplacements dug into the overlooking cliffs. Unable to clear the obstacles and scale the seawall, they suffered heavy losses. Captain Denis Whitaker of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry recalled a scene of absolute carnage and confusion, with soldiers being cut down by German fire all along the sea wall while his commanding officer, Colonel Bob Labatt, desperately tried to use a broken radio to contact General Roberts while ignoring his men. When the tanks eventually arrived only 29 were landed. Two of those sank in deep water, and 12 more became bogged down in the soft shingle beach. Only 15 of the tanks made it up to and across the seawall. Once they crossed the seawall, they were confronted by a series of tank obstacles that prevented their entry into the town. Blocked from going further, they were forced to return to the beach where they provided fire support for the now retreating infantry. None of the tanks managed to return to England. All the crews that landed were either killed or captured.

Unaware of the situation on the beaches because of a smoke screen laid by the supporting destroyers, Major General Roberts sent in the two reserve units: the Fusiliers Mont-Royal and the Royal Marines. At 07:00, the Fusiliers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Dollard Ménard in 26 landing craft sailed towards their beach. They were heavily engaged by the Germans, who hit them with heavy machine gun, mortar and grenade fire, and destroyed them; only a few men managed to reach the town.Those men were then sent in towards the centre of Dieppe and became pinned down under the cliffs and Roberts ordered the Royal Marines to land in order to support them. Not being prepared to support the Fusiliers, the Royal Marines had to transfer from their gunboats and motorboat transports onto landing craft. The Royal Marine landing craft were heavily engaged on their way in with many destroyed or disabled. Those Royal Marines that did reach the shore were either killed or captured. As he became aware of the situation the Royal Marine commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Phillipps, stood upon the stern of his landing craft and signalled for the rest of his men to turn back. He was killed a few moments later.

During the raid, a mortar platoon from the Calgary Highlanders, commanded by Lieutenant F. J. Reynolds, was attached to the landing force but stayed offshore after the tanks on board (code-named Bert and Bill) landed. Sergeants Lyster and Pittaway were Mentioned in Despatches for their part in shooting down two German aircraft and one officer of the battalion was killed while ashore with a brigade headquarters.

Corporal Laurens Pals landed in the middle of Red beach. All around him were bodies and broken-down tanks.

“The barges, soon as they hit the beach, they were lucky to get ashore at all. Some of them, instead of pumping water out of their bilges, you could see they were pumping blood. Then there was the continuous noise: dogfights overhead, planes hitting the water right alongside of you and bombs and shells.”

Pals pulled his injured friends out of the water and carried them to a makeshift field hospital in one of the captured buildings. The Canadians had charged into a deathtrap and there was little they could do about it but try to bring small-arms fire on to the German positions and wait for evacuation.

At 1100 Pals was ordered to surrender. He walked behind the one German prisoner his unit had managed to take, holding a white flag.Of the 4,963 Canadians who had crossed the sea, 3,369 were killed, wounded or captured.

At 09:40, under heavy fire, the withdrawal from the main landing beaches began and was completed by 14:00.

At 04:16 six Bostons attacked German coastal artillery in the twilight which led to the results not being observed. Soon afterwards 14 Bostons flew to Dieppe to drop smoke bombs around the German guns on the eastern heights, bombing the Bismarck batteries between 05:09 and 05:44 with a hundred and fifty 100 lb (45 kg) smoke bombs at 50–70 ft (15–21 m), flying through a storm of anti-aircraft fire. A smoke screen 800–1,000 yd (730–910 m) drifted 4–5 mi (6.4–8.0 km) seawards, thickened by the smoke of a burning field of wheat. Six Bristol Blenheim bombers from 13 Squadron and one from 614 Squadron dropped 100 lb (45 kg) phosphorus bombs south of German FlaK sites. Nine of the twelve Bostons were damaged, two crashed on landing and one Blenheim smoke layer from 614 Squadron was damaged and the pilot wounded, the aircraft crashing on landing and bursting into flames. Just before 08:00 two squadrons of cannon-armed Hurricanes were ordered to attack E-boats coming from Boulogne; they were accompanied by two fighter cover squadrons.

The airfield at Abbeville-Drucat was attacked by 24 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, escorted by four squadrons of USAAF Spitfire IXs at 10:30 putting it out of action for “two vital hours”. After the attack, a wing of Typhoons made a feint towards Ostend. The Mustangs reconnoitred outside the main area looking for reinforcements on the roads to Dieppe and from Amiens, Rouen, Yvetot and Le Havre. Flying from RAF Gatwick, they contacted the HQ ship then, having flown a sortie, passed information to the HQ ship before returning to Gatwick and phoning report to the air commander. Reconnaissance sorties were stopped after 12:00. Although taken by surprise, the German fighters soon began to attack the air umbrella. The RAF was moderately successful in protecting the ground and sea forces from aerial bombing but were hampered by operating far from their home bases. Spitfires were at the limit of their range, with some only being able to spend five minutes over the combat area. One German FQ-190 fighter bomber hirt and sank Royal Navy destroyer HMS Berkeley.

As more German aircraft appeared, the number of British aircraft over Dieppe was increased from three to six squadrons and at times up to nine squadrons were present. German submarine trawler UJ-1404 Franken was rammed by a Royal Navy motorgunboat MGB 338 then sunk by gunfire from destroyer HMS Brocklesby.

Six squadrons (four British, two Canadian) flew the Spitfire Mk IX, the only British fighter equal to the Fw 190, on its operational debut at Dieppe. During the battle, Fighter Command flew 2,500 sorties over Dieppe. The plan to centralise information gleaned from German radar, W/T and R/T and other transmissions failed because the Luftwaffe operation against the landing overwhelmed the reporting system and the war room at 11 Group HQ was overwhelmed with reports as the Luftwaffe reaction increased. RAF Kingsdown was not informed about developments and failed to identify German fighter reinforcements arriving from all over France and the Low Countries.

The capture of a copy of the Dieppe plan allowed the Germans to analyse the operation. Rundstedt critised the plan’s rigidity, saying that “the plan is in German terms not a plan, it is more a position paper or the intended course of an exercise” Other senior German officers were equally unimpressed; General Konrad Haase considered it “incomprehensible” that a division was expected to overrun a German regiment that was supported by artillery, “…the strength of naval and air forces was entirely insufficient to suppress the defenders during the landings”. General Adolf-Friedrich Kuntzen could not understand why the Pourville landings were not reinforced with tanks where they might have succeeded in leaving the beach. The Germans were unimpressed by the Churchill tanks left behind; the armament and armour were compared unfavourably with that used in German and Soviet tanks.

The Luftwaffe was pleased with how it had performed during the air battle. One report judged the FW-190, which formed the bulk of the air defence, to be ‘in every way suitable as a fighter-bomber’. It ascribed its good performance despite its marked numerical superiority to the “aggressiveness and better training of the German fighter pilots”. The Luftwaffe had been so active during the battle that only 70 of the 230 airframes available at the start of the day were combat ready by day’s end. The Luftwaffe had consumed all its 20mm cannon ammunition available in the West, so much so that there was not enough for routine flight operations in the next couple of days.

The Germans were pleased with their successful defence whilst noting faults in their own communications, transport and location of support forces but recognised that the Allies were certain to learn some lessons from the operation and set about improving the fixed defences.[19] As the overall theatre commander in the West, Rundstedt was adamant that the Germans must learn Dieppe’s lessons. He was anxious that the Germans were not left behind in learning from Dieppe: “Just as we have gained the most valuable experience from the day of Dieppe, the enemy has learnt as well. Just as we evaluate the experience for the future, so will the enemy. Perhaps he will do this to an even greater extent because he has paid so dearly for it”.

The Dieppe raid also provoked longer-term strategic decisions. In October, Hitler’s high command produced a “Memorandum Regarding Experiences in Coastal Defence”, which was provoked in large part by Dieppe. This document provided a framework for German commanders to plan coastal defence in the future. It laid down, amongst other principles, that air superiority was the key to a successful coastal defence strategy.

For Allies , Dieppe became a textbook example of “what not to do” in amphibious operations and laid the framework for the Normandy landings two years later. Dieppe showed the need for

-preliminary artillery support, including aerial bombardment
-surprise
-proper intelligence concerning enemy fortifications
-avoidance of a frontal attack on a defended port
-proper re-embarkation craft.

While the Canadian contingent fought bravely in the face of a determined enemy, it was ultimately circumstances outside their control which sealed their fate. Despite criticism concerning the inexperience of the Canadian brigades, scholars have noted that even seasoned professionals would have been hard-pressed under the deplorable conditions brought about by their superiors. The commanders who planned the raid on Dieppe had not envisaged such losses. This was one of the first attempts by the Western Allies on a German-held port city. As a consequence, planning from the highest ranks in preparation for the raid was minimal. Basic strategic and tactical errors were made which resulted in a higher than expected Allied (particularly Canadian) death rate.

To help future landings, the British would develop specialist armoured vehicles for engineers to perform tasks protected by armour. Because the tracks of most of the Churchill tanks were caught up in the shingle beach, the Allies began to study beach geology where they intended to land and adapting vehicles for them. The Allies changed their view that capturing a major port was necessary to establish a second front; the damage inflicted on a port to capture it and by the Germans firing demolition charges would make it useless afterwards. Prefabricated Mulberry harbours were to be built and towed to beaches during the invasion.

While the RAF were generally able to keep German aircraft from the land battle and the ships, the operation demonstrated the need for air superiority as well as showing “major deficiencies in RAF ground support techniques” and this led to the creation of an integrated tactical air force for army support.

This is the first time’, mocked Hitler, ‘that the British have had the courtesy to cross the sea to offer the enemy a complete sample of their weapons.’ Later however, Hitler told his commanders: ‘We must realize that we are not alone in learning a lesson from Dieppe. The British have also learned. We must reckon with a totally different mode of attack and at quite a different place.’

El Alamein , Egypt : One idea came up by Montgomery’s Chief of Staff Brigadier Freddie de Guingand and Monty’s Chief of Intelligence Brigadier Bill Williams was planting a misleading fake map on edge of Axis minefields on No Man’s Land at Alamein line inside a damaged armored car. Eighth Army headquarters was aware that Rommel and Panzer Army Afrika were frantically trying to get hold any kind of intelligence about British defences at Alamein line before the attac since Axis intelligence resources like Col. Bonnar Belar reports from Cairo encrypted byt US State Department “Black Code” that was decoded by Axis decoders or destruction of German Signal Company 621 during First Battle of Alamein at Tel El Eisa Ridge on 10th July 1942. The map was obviously put there to be captured by Germans and designed and drawn by British military intelligence to deceive the enemy. The aim was to deceive the Axis by displaying the southern sector of Alamein line ( the sector between Alam Nayil hill and Qaret el Himeimat box) as hard ground suitable for tanks and motorized vehicles and protected by a thin minefield and not held strongly.

Actually it was quite opposite. Southern sector of Alamein line south of Alam el Halfa was soft sand , highly unsuitable for armor and motorized / mechanized operations and British engineers planted some very deep minefield with multiple belts in that sector which was not displayed on planted map at all. They also dug heavily on high ground above Alamein at Alam El Halfa ridge , put 17 pounder anti tank guns of 44th Infantry Div. and 8th Armored Brigade plus elements of 7th Armored Division. Montgomery was expecting Axis attack from this location and wanted to manipulate enemy to assault on that sector.

The map planting operation was carried out on night of 19-20 August 1942. A ‘going’ map was a specially coloured map produced by the Survey Branch showing what parts of the desert were possible for vehicles and which areas were impassable. The map was specially drawn up to show that a wide flanking move around the Alam el Halfa position would be hard ‘going’, while an advance against the south of the position would be relatively easy ‘going’. The map was ‘aged’ with folds, creases, tea and oil stains and given to an 11th Hussar armoured car reconnaissance patrol. The patrol drove within sight of the German lines at Ruweisat ridge and attracted some fire, at which point the crew of the armoured car faked a breakdown. The crew bailed out, ran away to the safety of another vehicle in the patrol and sped off, leaving the map and several other documents behind. At morning British recon observed an Axis patrol arrived to damaged car and retrieved the map. Later that day General Brian Horrocks commanding 13th Corps in this sector informed Montgomey’s Chief of Staff Brigadier Freddie de Guingand that “enemy took the eggs” Reply “Lets wait the chicks out of them then”

At the headquarters of Panzer Army Afrika on 21 August there was almost festive mood for this sudden intelligence boon they got just before their offensive on Alamein line would start ten days later , showing exact topography and defences British had on the sector exactly Afrikakorps would attack just like they needed. Rommel’s Chief of Staff General Fritz Bayerlein in exhilarant mood claimed “That is extraodinary , the road to Alexandria has opened to us.” All German assault planning mostly based on this captured map.

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19 August 1942

Caucasian Front , Russia : Soviet troops in the Caucasus region of southern Russia launched the Novorossiysk Defensive Operation.

The swastika flag was raised on Mount Elbruz, provoking Hitler’s irate comment that his Army’s ambition should be to defeat the Russians rather than conquer mountains. A hundred and sixty miles east of Mount Elbruz lay Grozny, the principal city and oil centre of the Caucasus; Hitler knew the perils that could lie along the way.

Don Front , Russia : Showtime in Stalingrad as the German Sixth Army is ordered to take the city. Gen. Friedrich Paulus, the toothpick-thin commander of 6th Army, devises a conventional plan for a concentric attack with the armor on both wings. The Russian front is 80 miles in circumference, convex in shape, from Kachalinskaya along the east bank of the Don and curving back to the Volga along the Mishkova river, 50 miles across.

Russian defenses are two armies, 62nd and 64th, with 11 infantry divisions, most understrength. Paulus will hit in the center with nine infantry divisions, two panzer and two motorized on the northern flank, three panzer and two motorized on the southern.

Deadline to capture the city: August 25th.

Leningrad Front : Soviets launched the Sinyavino Offensive in the Leningrad region in northern Russia, with troops of the Leningrad Front capturing several bridgeheads across the Neva River. The Volkhov Front, however, failed to launch its offensive in concert.

Black Sea : German JU-88 bombers hit and sank Soviet minesweepers No 575 and No 578

Berlin , Germany : Nazi leader Martin Bormann wrote, of the Russians and Poles who were being used in their hundreds of thousands as slave labourers for Germany: ‘The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Slav fertility is not desirable.’

Poland : In German-occupied Europe, August 19 saw the deportation to Treblinka, and to their death, of all the mental patients of a Jewish mental asylum at Otwock, near Warsaw, several hundred more victims of a racial policy which wanted neither the Jews nor the mentally ill to survive the triumph of the Reich.

Gudalcanal , SW Pacific : General Vandegrift sent three companies of the U.S. 5th Marine Regiment to attack the Japanese troop concentration west of the Matanikau. One company attacked across the sandbar at the mouth of the Matanikau River while another crossed the river 1,000 meters (1,100 yd) inland and attacked the Japanese forces located in Matanikau village. The third landed by boat further west and attacked Kokumbuna village. After briefly occupying the two villages, the three Marine companies returned to the Lunga perimeter, having killed about 65 Japanese soldiers while losing four Marines. This action, sometimes referred to as the “First Battle of the Matanikau”, was the first of several major actions around the Matanikau River during the campaig

Japanese destroyers Kagero, Kagikaze, Maikaze, Urakaze, Isokaze, and Hamakaze landed 916 men at Taivu Point, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands at 0100 hours. Men of Company L, US 5th Marine Regiment attacked a Japanese construction battalion west of the Matanikau River at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands at midday. On the same day, Company I of the same regiment conducted an amphibious raid further west at Kokumbona. Out at sea, Japanese destroyer Hagikaze was damaged by a bomb during an attack by US B-17 bombers; 33 were killed, 13 were wounded.

At Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, the forward echelon of Marine Aircraft Group 23 (19 F4F fighters and 12 SBD-3 dive bombers) arrived.

Col. Kiyamo Ichiki’s First Echelon of 917 men arrives at Guadalcanal’s Taivu Point at 1 a.m. The men unload and start marching in the dark nine miles to Tetere, where they take a break.

The Americans know Ichiki is in the area, as they hear the sound of his ships passing by them in the night.

Meanwhile, three Japanese destroyers shell Tulagi. American B-17s fly up to bomb the destroyers. One B-17 scores direct hits on the tincan Hagikaze’s stern, which kill 33 Sailors and wound 13. Hagikaze limps home.

Early in the morning on Guadalcanal, Martin Clemens is asked to provide native guides and scouts to locate the Ichiki force. Daniel Pule is assigned to a Marine patrol, and police Sgt. Major. Jacob Vouza leads a native patrol of his own.

Vouza is a colorful character, an autocratic and headstrong veteran Solomon Islands police officer. He has been reprimanded for taking the law into his own hands, and now serves proudly as a scout and guide.

Early that day, US Marine Capt. Charles H. Brush hits the trail with a patrol of 60 men from A Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. They run smack into a 38-man patrol from Ichiki’s detachment. A jungle firefight ensues, and the Marines kill all but five of the Japanese. Brush notes that the bodies of four Japanese officers and 29 men wear the star insignia of the Imperial Army as opposed to the chrysanthemum of the Imperial Navy on their fresh clothes. Obviously this is a new force. Their large amounts of commo gear suggest a large unit. Their maps show the Japanese know the Marine positions. Brush high-tails it to headquarters.

The Japanese survivors return to Ichiki’s force. Although his patrol has been annihilated, Ichiki presses on through the jungle.

Vandegrift studies the captured maps, and realizes that the Japanese are coming and know his dispositions. His officers urge a counterattack. Vandegrift wisely decides to await the Japanese within his perimeter.

The 1st Marines will dig in along Alligator Creek, which Martin Clemens has named after its inhabitants, which are actually crocodiles. The Marines think the sluggish waterway is actually the Tenaru River.

Meanwhile, three Japanese destroyers shell Tulagi. American B-17s fly up to bomb the destroyers. One B-17 scores direct hits on the tincan Hagikaze’s stern, which kill 33 Sailors and wound 13. Hagikaze limps home.

Port Moresby , Papua New Guinea : Lead elements of 7 Australian Division, veterans of Tobruk, arrive at Port Moresby, to stem the Japanese tide

Pacific Ocean : Gen Nishino, with the Kawaguchi Detachment, approaches Guadalcanal by sea. His men read a training manual that says, “Westerners – being very haughty, effeminate, and cowardly – intensely dislike fighting in the rain or mist or in the dark. They cannot conceive night to be a proper time for battle – though it is excellent for dancing. In these weaknesses lie our great opportunity.”

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20th August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : A PBY Catalina aircraft of US Navy squadron VP-73 located and attacked German submarine U-464 with depth charges 250 miles west of the Faroe Islands between Britain and Iceland at 0530 hours, killing 2 men and damaging the submarine; U-464 was scuttled at 0815 hours after the 52 survivors abandoned ship; all survivors were captured by Royal Navy destroyer HMS Castleton

Don River , Russia : The German Sixth Army began to attack Stalingrad, Russia, crossing the Don River by inflatable boats. The vanguard of Sixth German Army penetrating the Russian 64th Army at Abganervor and Sarpa Lakes. A Russian officer writes, "The German tanks did not go into action without infantry and air support. On the battlefield there was no evidence of the ‘prowess’ of German tank crews…they operated sluggishly, extremely cautiously and indecisively.

"The German infantry was strong in automatic fire, but … there was no resolute attack on the battlefield.

“When advancing they did not spare their bullets but frequently fired into thin air. Their forward positions, particularly at night, were beautifully visible, being marked by machine gun fire, tracer bullets, often fired into empty space, and different-coloured rockets. It seemed as if they were either afraid of the dark, or were bored without the crackle of machine- guns and the light of tracer bullets.”

The Soviet defence at the Don forced the Germans to commit more and more troops to an increasingly vulnerable front, leaving few reserves to back up the Axis divisions on either flank. The Soviets made several counter-attacks on the northern flank of Army Group B, between Stalingrad and Voronezh. From 20–28 August, the 63rd Army and the 21st Army counter-attacked near Serafimovich, forcing the Italian Eighth Army to fall back. The 1st Guards Army attacked near Novo-Grigoryevskaja, extending its bridgehead. These and several other bridgeheads across the Don, opposed by the Eighth Italian and Second Hungarian armies, were a constant danger.

Amiens , France : US Army Air Force staged a raid on Amiens in daylight

Portsmouth , UK : During night , German bombers attacked Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom.

Kokoda Track , Paoua New Guinea : The main body of Japanese South Seas Force had landed at Giruawa between 19 and 21 August, and had been forced to make a 120-kilometre (75 mi) trek south on foot, carrying heavier than normal loads to alleviate the supply problems that the Japanese were beginning to experience as their line of communication was pushed further south. As a result of the heat, heavy loads and distance, a large number of troops, and several artillery pieces,[11] failed to reach Isurava in time for the battle, reducing the size of the Japanese force available for the attack. Horii’s plan involved a double envelopment. For the assault, Horii planned to use the three battalions of the 144th while the single battalion from the 41st Infantry Regiment remained in reserve. The reserve was intended to be used later to follow up the withdrawing Australians but it was ultimately committed to an unsuccessful flanking manoeuvre during the final stages of the battle.

The Australians were also experiencing their own supply problems. To enable them to mount a counter-attack, it was vital that they build up a stockpile of supplies in the forward areas. To reduce the burden placed on the native carrier system the Allies turned to aerial resupply, a technique that was still in its infancy. The loss of Kokoda had deprived them of a forward airfield, but to an extent this had been alleviated by the creation of a supply drop zone for US transport aircraft around the dry lake at Myola. These efforts, though, were hamstrung by deficiencies in the aerial resupply process and inexperience in its application. Only a few supplies were dropped by parachute, while the rest were just free-dropped. Inevitably some supplies fell away from their intended drop zones, while others were damaged due to inadequate packaging. Additionally, poor staff work and inattention resulted in fewer supplies being collected in the drop zone than Potts had been promised. This had the effect of slowing the arrival of the Australian reinforcements as they had to be held up and then committed piecemeal company by company,[41] as adequate supplies could be brought forward to sustain them

Guadalcanal , SW Pacific : 770 Japanese troops under Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki reached within a few miles of Henderson Field at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands by 0430 hours. During the day, Henderson Field received 31 US Marine fighter aircraft (19 Wildcat fighters and 12 Dauntless dive bombers) from aircraft carrier USS Long Island, allowing air supply and evacuation of wounded to begin between Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal; the small air fleet at Henderson Field was dubbed “Cactus Air Force”.

In the evening, Ichiki gave the order to move foward, running into the US Marines defensive perimeter at Tenaru River by surprise around midnight. At noon, Ichiki summoned his staff officers for a quick O Group. He ordered his men to march down the beach and assault the enemy by night, to seize the old camp of the 11th Construction Unit. Three rifle companies and the machine gun company will lead the assault. After that, his men will storm Henderson Field. Ichiki expected his men would cut through the Americans as they have carved through the Dutch in Borneo, with “one brush of an armored sleeve.” Victory thus assured, Ichiki’s men get moving.

The American defense is 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, dug in behind barbed wire and Alligator Creek.

Meanwhile, chaos continues to reign in the American supply chain to Guadalcanal. Prewar exercises have not stressed logistical problems. Much attention has been paid to amphibious assault, but not amphibious supply, even in constructing bases. Washington does not appreciate the time and distance involved in the South Pacific. Auckland is 5,680 miles from San Francisco, and 1,825 miles from Guadalcanal, which highlights the problems.

Only Auckland enjoys a deep water harbor with berthing, lighterage, warehouses, cranes, and stevedores (and the latter in Auckland have a propensity to strike at the drop of a hat). Espiritu Santo and Efate have none of the above, including stevedores (striking or working). Noumea has the three-berth Grand Quay and single-berth Nickel Dock, and little else.

When ships arrive at Noumea, some lack the rig to lift cargo like 20- ton radar sets, leaving contents below – food and ammunition – trapped. On other ships, cargoes for Brisbane lie atop cargoes for Noumea. Vital items cannot be readily located, as many ships’ manifests merely say, “Crates of machinery” or “dry goods,” which is not a good answer for a supply officer. Labor and transportation shortages leave supplies lying stacked around ports, open to weather and theft. Each service separately unloads ships.

The only bright spot in this muddle is Army Maj. Gen. Alexander Patch, who forms a provisional port company on his own in Noumea and hires laborers. He clothes Savo survivors in Army kit. When Vandegrift asks for machetes for jungle movement, Patch modifies 20,000 cavalry sabers that have been sent to Noumea and forwards them to Guadalcanal.

Much of that movement is done by VMJ-253, a Navy squadron of C-47 Dakotas.

But on this day, one thing is accomplished to Guadalcanal’s benefit. Vandegrift’s pleas for air support are finally answered when Marine Air Group 23 flies off the deck of the escort carrier USS Long Island. Nineteen F4F Wildcat fighters of VMF-223 and 12 SBD Dauntless dive bombers of VMSB-232 struggle off Long Island’s deck in the afternoon, and approach the island later the day.

The Marines hear the sound and assume it is yet another air attack. But when the stubby American planes swoop in, Marines come charging out of their dugouts to greet the aviators. Vandegrift shakes the hand of the first dive bomber pilot to arrive. Some Marines, realizing that they have not been abandoned to destruction after all, shed tears. The “Cactus Air Force” – Guadalcanal’s codename is “Cactus” – is now in business.

That day, the 11th Air Fleet hurls 26 Bettys and 13 Zeros to attack Long Island. The Japanese think Long Island, a rebuilt merchant ship, is actually the fleet carrier Wasp. The Japanese don’t find any carrier, so the fighters head to Guadalcanal to cause trouble. They run into the newly-arrived F4F Wildcats, and a wild battle ensues. The Japanese claim four kills and two probables. Their marksmanship is better than their math, as they hole every F4F. Tech. Sgt. John Lindsey glides back to Henderson Field to make a dead-stick landing. His F4F becomes the charter member of the Henderson Field “bone heap.”

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hi, new here, i left a comment on YouTube, but there were already over a thousand…

junk in a well is called a “fish”, and to remove it, is called “fishing”. that is expensive, and unsuccessful more times than not, when it is an accidental fish, with the best technology we have available today. radioactive fish from logging tools is the worst, and wireline creates a spaghetti fish that is also bad. If it is intentionally rammed down there by a Russian, that is not coming out, and that should have been obvious in the planning, not to bother trying. I am surprised they didn’t dump a whole lot of cement on top of them to create a permanent plug, and to remove the option of running a lead block to at least get an impression of what they were fishing, as there are different fishing tools for different fish (overshot, spear, etc…). Magnets don’t work, for some obvious reasons. The options are to drill a new well to intersect the plugged well below the plug, but not with the technology available then, that would be worse tha pin in a haystack. Since the reservoir is unlikely to be damaged, and the Russians probably didn’t want to do that, drilling new wells is pretty much the best option, and if they didn’t arrive with a bunch of drilling rigs as well as tanks, NO OIL FOR HITLER! (ps. I left that industry after 20 years, with a grievance, and said “so long and thanks for all the fish” in my last sentence, at 6 x 7 = 42, if you know what i mean…)

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21 August 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-506 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship City of Wellington 100 miles southwest of Freetown, British West Africa at 2243 hours; 7 were killed, 66 survived.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarine HMS Unison intercepted , torpedoed and so severely damaged Italian tanker Pozarica of 1891 tons that she ghad to beached on Crete.

Don River , Russia : German infantry companies of 51st Corps from Sixth Army crossed the Don in inflatable boats on the Trekhostrovskaya-Gerasimov sector in 4th Soviet Tank Army area, and at Perepolnyi-Luchenskii on the right of Lopatin’s 62nd Army area and quickly established a bridgehead near the village of Luchinsky. German infantry rapidly established a bridgehead near the village of Luchinsky. More and more companies paddled furiously over the broad expanse of water. A few miles downstream at Vertyachy, a whole battalion crossed the Don in relays in less than seventy minutes.

Once bridgeheads were secured, pioneer battalions went to work building pontoon bridges to take the tanks and other vehicles of General von Wietersheim’s 24th Panzer Corps. The German pioneers, intrigued by the mysterious contrasts of the ‘quiet Don’, referred to the river affectionately as ‘the stream’. A number of soldiers and officers in the Sixth Army seem to have fallen for this stretch of Don Cossack country. Some dreamed of having a farm there once the war was won.

Stalingrad , Volga River : Nowhere was Stalin’s ‘Not one step back’ order more applicable than in the threatened city that bore his name. The civil-war battle, which took place when the town was still called Tsaritsyn (in Tartar it meant the town on the Tsaritsa, or yellow river), was invoked along with the myth that Stalin’s leadership there had turned the tide against the White armies and saved the Revolution. The regional military committee did not shrink from using every measure to turn the city into a fortress. The task was far from easy. Stalingrad curved for twenty miles along the high western bank of the Volga. The defenders would have a broad stretch of exposed water behind them, across which all supplies and reinforcements would have to come.

Throughout the region, the population was mobilized. All available men and women between sixteen and fifty-five - nearly 200,000—were mobilized in ‘workers’ columns’, organized by their district Party committees. As in Moscow the year before, women in kerchiefs and older children were marched out and given long-handled shovels and baskets to dig anti-tank ditches over six feet deep in the sandy earth. While the women dug, army sappers laid heavy anti-tank mines on the western side.

Younger schoolchildren, meanwhile, were put to work building earth walls round the petroleum-storage tanks on the banks of the Volga. Supervised by teachers, they carried the earth on wooden stretchers. A German aircraft suddenly appeared. The girls did not know where to hide, and the explosion from a bomb buried two fourteen-year-old girls. When their classmates dug them out, they found that one of them, Nina Grebennikova, was paralysed with a broken back. Her shocked and weeping friends cleaned off the wooden stretcher, and carried her on it to a Stalingrad hospital, next to where the Tsaritsa gorge opens on to the Volga.

Anti-aircraft defences were a high priority, but many of the guns had not yet received shells. Most batteries were formed with young women, mainly Komsomol members, who had been recruited in April with the inescapably pointed question: ‘Do you want to defend your Motherland?’ Batteries were sited on both banks of the Volga to defend key installations, such as the power station at Beketovka just to the south, and the large factories in the northern sector of the town. There, the workers on arms-production lines, such as the Stalingrad tractor factory, which had converted to the production of T-34 tanks, received rudimentary military training.

The Stalingrad Defence Committee issued decree after decree. Collective farms were ordered to hand their grain reserves over to the Red Army. Tribunals were set up to try those who failed in their patriotic duty. Failure to denounce a member of the family who deserted or failed to enlist carried a ten-year sentence. The director of a high school ordered to take sixty-six of his seventeen-year-old pupils to enlist them at the district military commission, was put in front of a tribunal because thirty-one of them deserted en route.

Tribunals also dealt in absentia with civilian ‘deserters’, most of them denounced by retreating refugees. Those pronounced guilty were sentenced as a ‘Traitor to the Party and to the Soviet State’. All too often guilt was a matter of timing. Y. S., who ran away when her village was bombed, was sentenced to six months’ labour camp ‘for deserting her place of work’, while A. S., who refused to leave her home when the Germans were approaching, was condemned in absentia as a ‘traitor to the Motherland’. A minimum of ten years in a Gulag labour camp awaited her.

Few forces were available to oppose Hoth’s forces in the semi-barren Kalmyk steppe, which Russians from the north thought of as ‘the end of the world’. Lev Lazarev, who commanded a detachment of marine infantry there, said of the area: ‘It’s not Russia, it’s Asia. It was hard to understand the reason to fight for such territory, yet we all knew that we had to stand or die there.’ With no soldiers available, the Soviet military authorities had turned to the navy. Brigades of sailors were transferred by rail across Siberia from the Far East fleet. Their officers were eighteen-year-old cadets originally from the naval academy in Leningrad, where they had fought in the early part of the siege. In August, while the sailors were en route from the Far East, the cadets received three weeks’ field training on the Kalmyk steppe. These eighteen-year-olds awaited the tough sailors they were to command with trepidation. But they did not disgrace themselves in battle. The casualty rate for the young lieutenants would be terrible. Out of Lazarev’s class of twenty-one cadets, only two remained alive the following year.

On the German side, meanwhile, a sense of unease began to grow in spite of their victories. ‘After the Don we will advance to the Volga,’ wrote the company commander who kept a diary in the 384th Infantry Division. But he recognized the danger. Germany simply did not have ‘enough troops to push forward along the whole front’. He began to suspect that the war had developed a momentum of its own. It would not come to an end when they reached the great river that was supposed to mark their final destination.

Milne Bay , Papua New Guinea : Australian 18th Infantry Brigade landed on the coast of Milne Bay to construct an airfield

Guadalcanal , SW Pacific : Now anticipating an attack from the east, the U.S. Marine forces, under the direction of General Vandegrift, prepared their defenses on the east side of the Lunga perimeter. Several official U.S. military histories identify the location of the eastern defenses of the Lunga perimeter as emplaced on the Tenaru River. The Tenaru River, however, was actually located further to the east. The river forming the eastern boundary of the Lunga perimeter was actually the Ilu River, nicknamed Alligator Creek by the Marines, a double misnomer: there are only crocodiles (no alligators) in the Solomons, and Alligator “Creek” was a tidal lagoon separated from the ocean by a sandbar about 7 to 15 meters (23 to 49 ft) wide and 30 meters (98 feet) long.

Along the west side of Alligator Creek, Colonel Clifton B. Cates, commander of the 1st Marine Regiment, deployed his 1st (Lieutenant Colonel Leonard B. Cresswell) and 2nd Battalions (Lieutenant Colonel Edwin A. Pollock). To help further defend the Alligator Creek sandbar, Cates deployed 100 men from the 1st Special Weapons Battalion with two 37 mm anti-tank guns equipped with canister shot.[30] Marine divisional artillery, consisting of both 75 mm and 105 mm guns, pre-targeted locations on the east side and sandbar areas of Alligator Creek, and forward artillery observers emplaced themselves in the forward Marine positions. The Marines worked all day on August 20 to prepare their defenses as much as possible before nightfall.

The first major assault by Japanese troops on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands by Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki and his 770 men commenced at about 0000 hours with poor intelligence that led him to severely underestimate American strength. At 0130 hours, a wave of 100 Japanese troops rushed across the river, supported by machine guns and mortar fire, only to be mowed down at the line manned by 2,500 Marines. Just after midnight on August 21, Ichiki’s main body of troops arrived at the east bank of Alligator Creek and were surprised to encounter the Marine positions, not having expected to find U.S. forces located that distance from the airfield. Nearby U.S. Marine listening posts heard “clanking” sounds, human voices, and other noises before withdrawing to the west bank of the creek. At 01:30 Ichiki’s force opened fire with machine guns and mortars on the Marine positions on the west bank of the creek, and a first wave of about 100 Imperial soldiers charged across the sandbar towards the Marines.

Marine machine gun fire and canister rounds from the 37 mm cannons killed most of the Japanese soldiers as they crossed the sandbar. A few of the Japanese soldiers reached the Marine positions, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the defenders, and captured a few of the Marine front-line emplacements. Japanese machine gun and rifle fire from the east side of the creek killed several of the Marine machine-gunners. A company of Marines, held in reserve just behind the front line, attacked and killed most, if not all, of the remaining Japanese soldiers that had breached the front line defenses, ending Ichiki’s first assault about an hour after it had begun.

At 0230 hours, another wave of 150 to 200 Japanese rushed again, suffering similar fates. A third wave attacked at 0500 hours, again suffering near 100% casualty rate. At least one of the surviving Imperial officers from this attack advised Ichiki to withdraw his remaining forces, but Ichiki declined to do so.

As Ichiki’s troops regrouped east of the creek, Japanese mortars bombarded the Marine lines. The Marines answered with 75 mm artillery barrages and mortar fire into the areas east of the creek. At about 05:00, another wave of Japanese troops attacked, this time attempting to flank the Marine positions by wading through the ocean surf and attacking up the beach into the west bank area of the creek bed. The Marines responded with heavy machine gun and artillery fire along the beachfront area, again causing heavy casualties among Ichiki’s attacking troops and causing them to abandon their attack and withdraw back to the east bank of the creek. For the next couple of hours, the two sides exchanged rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire at close range across the sandbar and creek.

In spite of the heavy losses his force had suffered, Ichiki’s troops remained in place on the east bank of the creek, either unable or unwilling to withdraw. At daybreak on August 21, the commanders of the U.S. Marine units facing Ichiki’s troops conferred on how best to proceed, and they decided to counterattack. The 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, under Cresswell, crossed Alligator Creek upstream from the battle area, enveloped Ichiki’s troops from the south and east, cutting off any avenue for retreat, and began to “compress” Ichiki’s troops into a small area in a coconut grove on the east bank of the creek.

At 0700 hours, US 1st Marine Regiment counterattacked supported by light tanks and aircraft, enveloping and destroying the remnants of 2nd Battalion of Japanese 28th Infantry Regiment. Later in the afternoon, four or five Marine M3 Stuart tanks attacked across the sandbar into the coconut grove. The tanks swept the coconut grove with machine gun and canister cannon fire, as well as rolling over the bodies, both alive and dead, of any Japanese soldiers unable or unwilling to get out of the way. When the tank attack was over, Vandegrift wrote that, “the rear of the tanks looked like meat grinders”

The Battle of the Tenaru (Ilu) River ended with the Japanese suffering 740 killed (including Col. Ichiki who comitted seppuku) and 15 captured; the Americans suffered 44 killed. Only 130 remaining men from Ichiki Detachment managed to retreat further west. For the U.S. and its allies, the victory in the Tenaru battle was psychologically significant in that Allied soldiers, after a series of defeats by Japanese Army units throughout the Pacific and east Asia, now knew that they could defeat the Imperial Armies in a land battle. The battle set another precedent that would continue throughout the war in the Pacific, which was the reluctance of defeated Japanese soldiers to surrender and their efforts to continue killing Allied soldiers, even as the Japanese soldiers lay dying on the battlefield.
The battle was psychologically significant in that Imperial soldiers believed in their own invincibility and superior spirit. Four days later on August 25, most of Ichiki’s survivors reached Taivu Point and radioed Rabaul to tell 17th Army headquarters that Ichiki’s detachment had been “almost annihilated at a point short of the airfield”. Reacting with disbelief to the news, Japanese Army headquarters officers proceeded with plans to deliver additional troops to Guadalcanal to reattempt to capture Henderson Field.

During the day, men of the 2nd Battalion of the US 5th Marine Regiment arrived at Guadalcanal from Tulagi as reinforcements.

Pacific Ocean : American submarine USS Tambor torpedoed and sank Japanese collier Shinsei Maru No. 6 off Ponape, Senyavin Islands, Caroline Islands.

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apologies, drilling new wells the ONLY option. No deviated drilling technology back then, and no such thing as a truly vertical well, due to the helical rotational forces during drilling, unless hammer drilling, but that’s usually only top sections if at all. The russians may have used simple checkshots for deviation assessment, but I doubt it, and I doubt they would leave those surveys lying around. Nothing gyroscopic back then. I am assuming the reservoir was overpressured and did not require pumps to bring the oil to surface. If they had production history, or could assess that through qualitative or semi quantitative means as again, why leave that data around, then start drilling new wells next to the best junked wells, and keep going. While these autocratic forces tend to get a head start on democracies, they get into survival mode cultures and lack any real critical thinking, and start to eat themselves from the inside, while continuing to expose themselves on the outside. That war, never ceases, the temperature just changes, and it is global now, not world…

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a possibly pedantic correction, and certainly not a criticism, but the Russian’s would have left NO drilling rigs, which are used to drill a well, and what you were referring to would have been production derricks.

i don’t know when to stop correcting myself, because those derricks would have been used to drill the initial well, and then remain for any further activities required, which then become completion activities, and would have been used to insert the steel obstructions, however i expect those would have been tapered tubulars with the ends capped, or completely solid, and rather than rammed down, it would have been gravity doing most of the work. the Germans would have used them to try to reverse that activity, in vain. difficult to perspective shift to that long ago, but the Russians knew what they were doing, and would have done it many times before, and lost a lot of lives, as ‘there will be blood’ and there were lots of uncontrolled blow outs, they learned the hard way, and their workers paid with lives.

what they effectively did, was ‘abandon’ those wells, without damaging the reservoir, with an isolation plug, to prevent production. a few bails of cement would have finished the job and be considered fairly effective today. considering the value of steel, i expect they would have dismantled all their flowlines, and taken them back behind the front, and repurposed, or melted and recast. so the Germans, really had to start an old field, from pretty much scratch…

now i think those flowlines, were probably used to make those plugs, and anything leftover, as above…

they could have burnt the derricks, but leaving them, provided a false hope, and a false hope dashed, and the time wasted, would have had psychological, material, and schedule benefits… kind of canny that…

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