16 - 22 August 1941

16 August 1941

Baltics : German Army Group North captured Novgorod , one of the iconic cities of Russia and began closing on Leningrad. German vanguard crosses Volkhov river near Novgorod.

Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement signed , Britain is opening a 10 million pound credit to Soviet Union

Moscow , USSR : Joseph Stalin issued Order No. 270, ordering all deserters executed and deserters’ families arrested.

Ukraine : German Army Group South troops captured the Soviet naval base at Nikolaev in Ukraine on the Black Sea. Nearby, Romanian troops launched a renewed attack on Odessa.

17 August 1941

Rastenburg , East Prussia : At Hitler’s headquarters, General von Brauchitsch proposed a resumption of the attack on Moscow. He was overruled. The main German thrust, Hitler insisted, must be to the Crimea, the southern Russian industrial areas, and the Caucasus. In the north, the pressure on Leningrad must be intensified. Moscow could wait. But, Hitler told Goebbels that same day, he hoped to be ‘beyond’ Moscow by the time winter set in.

Lthuania , Baltics : a mere 120 miles from Rastenburg, a Lithuanian working for the German authorities in the city, had ordered 534 Jewish writers, intellectuals, professors, teachers and students to report at the ghetto gate for ‘work in the city archives’. Many volunteered for what appeared to be a not too onerous task, perhaps even an interesting one. Among the volunteers was Robert Stenda, who before the war had been leader of the orchestra at the Kovno Opera House. ‘They saw the promise of money and better food’, one young Kovno Jew, Stenda’s friend Joseph Kagan, later recalled, ‘and perhaps better conditions for their families’. The Jews set off. ‘The relatives waited that evening for their return,’ Kagan wrote. ‘They waited through the next day, and the next. The pick of the ghetto’s young men did not return.’ All had been taken on the day of the selection to one of the old forts that surrounded the city, and shot.

Estonia , Baltics : 18th German Army captured Narva, Estonia.

Ukraine : Romanian troops captured the water reservoirs of Odessa, Ukraine with heavy casualties.

Tehran , Iran : Both British and Soviet Union goverments protest Iran Foreign Ministry about large number of Axis “tourists” in Iran (most Axis intelligence or military personnel)

Barents Sea : Royal Navy submarines that had reached on Soviet naval bases Murmansk at Kola Peninsula start their first patrols in Barents Sea. Royal Navy submarine HMS Tigris torpedoed and sunk German cargo ship Haakon Jarl

Mediterranean Sea : Italian cargo ship Maddalena Odelo was torpedoed and sunk by Free Dutch Navy submarine O24


18 August 1941

UK : British War Cabinet member Mr. Butt wrote a report to the RAF Bomber Command, noting “[o]f those aircraft recorded as attacking their target, only one in three got within five miles” of the intended targets. The conclusion was reached after studying post-bombing reconnaissance photos taken between 2 Jun and 25 Jul 1941.

Ukraine : In southern Ukraine, German troops established a bridgehead across the Dnieper River at Zaporizhia. Further southwest along the river, German troops began an attack on the city Kherson situated on the western bank of the river. The port facilities of Odessa, Ukraine was struck by He 111 bombers of German Luftwaffe KG 27; the pilots reported overwhelming success in terms of Soviet shipping destroyed. Out at sea, Two Romanian torpedo boats, NMS Viscolul and NMS Vijelia, damaged a Soviet destroyer south of Odessa.

Rastenburg : Hitler rejected General Franz Hader and Von Brauchtisch proposals for an attack on Moscow

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarine HMS P32 struck a mine and sunk

USSR : Soviet forces began to retreat behind Dnieper river

Baltic Sea : Soviet destroyer Statnyi struck a mine and sunk in Gulf of Riga

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19 August 1941

Berlin : Joachim von Ribbentrop requested Japan to join in the attack on the Soviet Union by attacking Vladivostok in eastern Russia; Japanese goverment responded by saying that such a venture would require much time for deliberation and planning

Baltics : German X Corps narrowly averted being encircled near Lake Illmen in northern Russia, saved by a counterattack by LVI Corps.

Norway : Operation Gauntlet started. A joint Anglo-Canadian Norwegian expedition landed on Spitzbergen island , 1.000 miles south of North Pole , to sabotage coal mines and bring 5.000 Norwegian and Russian miners back to Britain. They were greeted warmly by Noweigian and Russian mining community

Atlantic Ocean : Battle of Convoy OG71 started when a German u-boat pack gathered to attack this convoy en route from Gibraltar. U-201 torpedoed and sunk British troopship Aquilla with loss of 158 of her passangers and U-201 also torpedoed and sunk British cargo ship Ciscar. Another British cargo ship Alva was also torpdoed and sunk by U-559. Last of all while escorting trhe convoy , Free Norwegian Navy destroyer HMNS Bath was torpedoed and sunk by U-204.

Pacific Ocean : British cargo ship Devon was intercepted and sunk with gunfire by German auxilary cruiser/merchant raider Komet

Baltic Sea : Soviet hospital ship Sbir was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-87 dive bombers in Gulf of Riga with loss of 400 lives.

South Atlantic : Norwegian tanker Sildra was torpedoed and sunk by Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli

Rastenburg , East Prussia : ‘For the good of the German people,’ Hitler told his visitors at Rastenburg on August 19, ‘we must wish for a war every fifteen or twenty years. An army whose sole purpose is to preserve peace leads only to playing at soldiers—look at Sweden and Switzerland.’


20 August 1941

Poland : German 250th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Blue Division” and consisted of Spanish volunteers, was formed and began to move to Poland

Leningrad , USSR : Siege of Leningrad officially begins as General Ritter Von Leeb commanding German Army Group North throws all of his forces to reach outskirts of “Russia’s window to west” and to capture the city before autumn rains. Marshal Klement Voroshilov makes all out call yo arms to citizens to Leningrad. That night, the first German armoured units reached Gatchina, only twenty-five miles from Leningrad. On the following day they captured Chudovo, cutting the railway line between Leningrad and Moscow.

Ukraine : Russians blow up Soviet Unions greatest construction achievements , Lenin-Dnieproges dam on Dnieper river according to scorched eath policy. Meanwhile German Eleventh Army captured Kherson, Ukraine. Romanian aircraft destroyed a Soviet armored train at Odessa Ukraine.

Paris , France : Five thousand foreign born Jews were arrested by French police and sent to Deancy concentration camp

Rastenburg East Prussia : Determined to plan the style of his victory, on August 20 Hitler instructed Albert Speer that, in the monumental centre of the new Berlin, thirty captured Soviet heavy artillery pieces would be placed between the remodelled south station and the yet to be erected triumphal arch. Any ‘extra large’ Soviet tanks that were captured would be reserved for setting up in front of the important public buildings. Both the artillery pieces and the tanks would be placed on granite pedestals.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarines HMS Upholder and HMS Unique intercept an Axis convoy off Libya. HMS Upholder torpedoed and sunk Italian cargo ship Enotria and HMS Unique torpedoed and sunk Italian troopship Esperia.


21 August 1941

Rastenburg , East Prussia : Hitlers ordered that the Russian city of Leningrad was to be besieged, not captured. He also ordered transfer of units away from the Moscow, Russia area in order to bolster the siege on Leningrad (aiming for the linking up with Finnish forces) and the battles in Ukraine (aiming for the oil fields in the Caucasus region). “Don’t bother changing his mind , he only sees Leningrad now” Halder says to Guderian

Iceland : First Allied convoy inbound to Russia loaded with war supplies for Soviet Union (Dervish convoy , six merchant ships , one fleet oiler and fourteen escorts) sailed from Iceland. With Dervish convoy , the Arctic convoys officially start.

Leningrad : Red Army retreats from Gomel , just outside of Leningrad , USSR.

Paris , France : A twenty-two year old Communist, Pierre Georges, who was later to adopt the code name ‘Fabien’, shot and killed a young German officer-cadet in a Métro station. It was the first violent act against a German in Paris since the occupation more than a year earlier. More than a hundred and fifty Frenchmen were rounded up and shot as a reprisal.

Britain : Bletchley Park decryption operation intercepted the text of a radio message from the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin, reporting on a conversation with Hitler, in which Hitler had assured him that ‘in the event of a collision between Japan and the United States, Germany would at once open hostilities with the United States’. A decrypt of this telegram was immediately sent to Roosevelt. Another Intelligence success was the intercepting of German police messages sent from the East by Enigma on seventeen separate occasions, beginning on August 23 and continuing for eight days, setting out details of the shooting of Jews in groups numbering from 61 to 4,200; ‘whole districts are being exterminated’, Churchill revealed, in a broadcast to the British people on August 25. ‘Scores of thousands, literally scores of thousands, of executions in cold blood are being perpetrated by the German police-troops upon the Russian patriots who defend their native soil. Since the Mongol invasions of Europe in the sixteenth century, there has never been methodical, merciless butchery on such a scale, or approaching such a scale’.

Black Sea : Soviet cargo ship Briansk was bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe JU-87 dive bombers

Baltic Sea : Soviet cargo ship Briani struck a mine and sunk


22 August 1941

White Sea : Soviet passenger ship Pomorie hit a mine and sank in the White Sea in northern Russia; 60 were killed, 20 survived

Atlantic Ocean : Irish cargo ship Clonlara from convoy OG71 was torpedoed and sunk by U-564 in west of Portugal

Mediterranean Sea : Italian cargo ship Lussin was torpedoed and sunk by Royal Navy submarine HMS Upholder in west of Sicily.

Arctic Ocean : German cargo ship Ostprussen was torpedoed and sunk by Royal Navy submarine HMS Trident