16 May - 22 May 1942

16 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-751 torpedoed and sank US freighter Nicarao 50 kilometers east of the Bahamas at 0415 hours; 8 were killed, 31 survived.
German submarine U-507 torpedoed and sank Honduran cargo ship Amapala in the Gulf of Mexico at 0000 hours; 1 was killed, 56 survived. German submarine U-506 torpedoed and damaged US tankers Sun and William C. McTarnahan (killing 18 of 38 aboard) and sank US tanker Gulfoil (killing 21 of 40 aboard) 50 kilometers south of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Libya , North Africa : The first operational use of “Kittybombers” in the western desert (P-40 Kittyhawk fighters equipped with a bomb rack for a 500-lb bomb) occured when six aircraft of No. 112 squadron RAF Desert Air Force attacked an German camp east of the main road near Bomba, Libya.

Izyum Salient , Ukraine : Near Kharkov, Ukraine, the Soviet 28th Army’s offensive was halted by 6th German Army which is preparing its own counter offensive. To the south, Soviet 6th Guards Cavalry Corps reached Krasnograd but its advance was stalled by German artilery and anti tank gun screens , and their support tanks were 15 miles behind the front lines and could not arrive at the front fast enough to maintain the forward momentum.

Total of 16 German infantry battalions from 6th German Army were wiped out so far since Timoshenko’s offensive started four days ago but Soviet drive now stalled before Kharkov , the lack of artillery ammunition and delay of Soviet tank reinforcements also playing huge rolews in checking the Soviet advance and in further south flank of Izium bulge on the base of Soviet Southwest Front , German Southern Army Group Commander General Fedor Von Bock speeds up and prepared his own counter offensive with 1st Panzer And 17th German Armies to sever rear of Soviet armies massed attacking Kharkov and destroy them.

Kerch , Crimea : German troops captured the city of Kerch and the namesake peninsula in Russia; Soviet troops in the area concluded their naval evacuation to Taman peninsula across Kerch Strait next day.

UK : In a public speech today , Sir Stafford Cripps from Labour , for British ambassador in Moscow , expresses his willingness to open up a Second Front in Europe

Poland : Sobibór concentration camp in occupied Poland was deemed fully operational.

Imphal , India : Japanese bombers attacked Imphal, India.

Coral Sea : Task Force 17 (aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet with their escorts) under command of Admiral William Halsey was ordered to return back to Pearl Harbour

Pacific Ocean : American submarine USS Tautog torpedoed and damaged Japanese cargo ship Goyo Maru in the Caroline Islands, forcing her to beach to prevent sinking.

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : Joseph Rochefort’s cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a Japanese radio message containing Chuichi Nagumo’s request for weather reports to be submitted to him at a location 50 miles northwest of AF starting from three hours prior to the pre-determined time of attack.

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17 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-135 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Fort Qu’Appelle 480 miles east of Long Island, New York, United States; 14 were killed, 11 survived. Further south, also in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, German submarine U-653 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Peisander; all 65 aboard survived. Still further south in the Central Atlantic, German submarine U-156 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Barrdale at 0904 hours; 1 was killed, 52 survived. Finally, U-432 torpedoed sank small US trawler Foam (1 was killed, 20 survived) and U-588 torpedoed and sank Norwegian cargo ship Skottland (1 was killed, 23 survived) 85 miles south of Nova Scotia, Canada at about 1800 hours.

German submarine U-103 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Ruth Lykes with her deck gun 200 miles south of the Grand Cayman island at 0044 hours; 6 were killed, 26 survived. Off Grenada, German submarine U-155 torpedoed and sank British tanker San Victorio at 0217 hours; 52 were killed, 1 survived).
75 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River in southern United States, German submarine U-506 torpedoed and sank US tanker Gulfoil at 0534 hours; 21 were killed, 19 survived. At 0952 hours, U-155 struck again, torpedoed and sinking US cargo ship Challenger; 8 were killed, 56 survived.

Bay of Biscay : RAF Coastal Command under command of Air Marshall Philip Joubert started regular anti submarine air patrols against U-boats sailing to their French bases on surface over Bay of Biscay using aircraft quipped with air to surface radar , depth charges , rockets as well as machine guns.

North Sea : RAF Coastal Command launched two strikes against German cruiser Prinz Eugen while she was sailing toward Kiel, Germany. The first wave of 18 aircraft reached the ship but scored no hits; 3 aircraft were shot down. The second wave of 30 aircraft was intercepted by German fighters mid-way; 4 British bombers and 3 German Bf 109 fighters were shot down in action.

Malta : Royal Navy aircrafy carrier HMS Eagle launched 17 Spitfire and 6 Albacore aircraft for Malta; the Spitfire fighters successfully reached Malta, but the Albacore torpedo bombers returned due to engine trouble. Later in the day, 6 Italian SM.79 torpedo bombers attacked her, but all torpedoes missed.

The German 3rd Schnellboot (Fast Torpedoboat) Flotilla consisting of six boats was sent out from Sicily, Italy to lay a minefield in the approaches to Valetta Grand Harbour, Malta. Daybreak caught them within range of the 9.2-inch coastal battery in Fort Leonardo (Maltese: Il-Fortizza San Leonardu) on the eastern side of the harbour. As German motor torpedoboat S-34 was 12 kilometers off Zonqor Point she received a direct hit in her engine room killing three and injuring others of the crew. The boat, being of wooden and light metal construction failed to sink however so the crew attempted to scuttle her; the charges detonated but caused no further damage. Another boat radioing for air cover brought in a German Bf 109 fighter that bombed and sank damaged German torpedoboat boat

Izium Salient , Ukraine : Operation Fredericus II , German counter attack planned by Field Marshal Von Bock to eliminate Soviet held Izyum salient , to halt Soviet counter attack on Kharkov and smash Soviet Southwest Front begins in the morning. Under command of General Ewald Von Kleist German 1st Panzer Army attacked Soviet troops at Izium, Ukraine, breaching the 9th Soviet Army lines , capturing Barvenkovo aimimg to drive north to link up 6th German Army to sever rear of Soviet armies that are still attacking on Kharkov. Meanwhile the spearhead of the Soviet offensive continued toward Kharkov, however, despite the actions behind it.

Supported by Fliegerkorps IV, 1st German Panzer Army took the initiative, as Kleist’s 3rd Panzer Corps and 44th Army Corps began a counterattack on the Barvenkovo bridgehead from the area of Aleksandrovka in the south. Aided greatly by air support, Kleist was able to crush Soviet positions and advanced up to ten kilometres in the first day of the attack. Soviet troop and supply convoys were easy targets for ferocious Luftwaffe attacks, possessing few anti-aircraft guns and having left their rail-heads 100 kilometers to the rear. German reconnaissance aircraft monitored enemy movements, directed attack aircraft to Soviet positions and corrected German artillery fire. The response time of the 4th Air Corps to calls for air strikes was excellent, only 20 minutes. Many of the Soviet units were sent to the rear that night to be refitted, while others were moved forward to reinforce tenuous positions across the front. That same day, Timoshenko reported the move to Moscow and asked for reinforcements and described the day’s failures. Axting STAVKA Chief of Staff General Alexandr Vasilevsky’s attempts to gain approval for a general withdrawal were rejected by Stalin

South China Sea : American submarine USS Skipjack torpedoed and sank Japanese cargo ship Tazan Maru off French Indochina.

Pacific Ocean : American submarine USS Triton torpedoed and sank Japanese submarine I-64 south of Japan, killing all 81 aboard.

American submarine USS Tautog attacked Japanese submarines I-22 and I-24 70 miles south of Truk, Caroline Islands at 0648 hours; all torpedoes missed. At 1107 hours, she discovered I-28 and attacked with torpedoes again, this time sinking the target, killing all 88 aboard.

Kure , Japan : Severely damaged Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku, having evaded no less than eight US Navy submarines, arrived at Kure, Japan at 1830 hours, escorted by destroyers Yugure, Kuroshio, Oyashio, and Hayashio. She was immediately placed in the Reserve Unit of the Mobile Force.

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : From Washington DC, United States, Ernest King sent Chester Nimitz a message noting that King was now in agreement with the theory that Midway Atoll was likely one of the primary targets in the upcoming Japanese offensive. Later in the day, King messaged Harold Stark in London, England, United Kingdom, ordering him to relay the explanation for the US Navy removing two carriers from the South Pacific to British liaison officers. Also on this day, the US Office of Naval Intelligence also voiced its agreement in a report to King that the Japanese Navy code name AF was likely Midway Atoll.

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18 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-162 torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker Beth (sailing in service of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary force) off Barbados at 0210 hours. U-558 torpedoed and sank Dutch cargo ship Fauna 25 miles northwest of British North Caicos island at 0615 hours. German submarine U-156 torpedoed and sank American cargo ship Quaker City 460 miles east of Martinique at 1018 hours; 10 were killed, 29 survived.
German submarine U-125 torpedoed and sank US tanker Mercury Sun in the Caribbean Sea at 0606 hours. At 2150 hours, U-125 struck again, torpedoed and sinking US cargo ship William J. Salman.

At 1852 hours, U-156 fired what would be the first of four torpedoes at British tanker San Eliseo between this evening and the next morning as she unsuccessfully chased the tanker.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarine HMS Turbulent arrived in the Gulf of Sirte north of Libya in the early hours of the day. At 0510 hours, 50 miles northwest of Benghazi, she spotted an Axis convoy en route to Benghazi and after maneuvering to an attack position , she torpedoed sank Italian cargo ship Bolsena.

Mannheim , Germany : RAF bombers conducted a night raid on Mannheim, Germany.

Kiel , Germany : German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen arrived at Kiel, Germany to receive a new stern, which was destroyed on 23 Feb by a torpedo from HMS Trident.

Izium Salient , Kharkov , Ukraine : With heavy air support from Luftflotte VIII , 14th and 16th Panzer Divisions of the German 1st Panzer Army destroyed 130 Soviet tanks in combat in Ukraine, routing the left flank of Soviet 9th Army , forcing Soviet forces to evacuate forward airfields at Izium and Petrovskaia. On the morning of 18 May , Kleist had torn a forty-mile gap in Soviet 9th Army’s positions and laid bare the communications of Soviet forces in Izium bulge. The situation in this slashing battle within a battle was careering out of control. By midday, the spearhead of General Kleist’s 3rd Panzer Corps had advanced ten miles, even though his panzer divisions had to engage the T-34 at close range, otherwise their ‘shells bounced off like fireworks’.

Marshal Semyon Timoshenko requested for permission to fall back from his positions near Kharkov, Ukraine due to this latest German counteroffensive; Joseph Stalin refused to grant his permission, ordering Timoshenko to continue the westward offensive.

Vasilevskii at the General Staff insisted that without Stavka reserves in the vicinity the Kharkov offensive should and must be stopped until Timoshenko pulled back Soviet 21st and 23rd Tank Corps to fight defensive actions against Kleist.Stalin himself talked to Timoshenko that night; he was assured that defensive measures were adequate and therefore overrode Vasilevskii’s opinion to halt Kharhov offensive.

Ukraine : Political of Soviet South and Southwest Front Nikita Khrushchev phoned Joseph Stalin at Moscow, Russia, requesting Stalin to pause the Kharkov offensive in Ukraine in order to focus on other more important campaigns; Stalin rejected the request.

Black Sea : Soviet submarine ShCh-205 sank Turkish freighter Duatepe with torpedoes and schooner Kaynardzha with the deck gun 10 miles off Bulgaria; these ships were suspected of smuggling weapons to southern Ukraine for German forces.

Belfast , Northern Ireland : A troop convoy from New York brought largest number of US military servicemen and personnel deployed overseas so far to Britain.

Berlin , Germany : 27 Jews were shot by Gestapo for organising distribution of anti Nazi posters

New York , US : The newspaper New York Times published an article in an inside page that Germans had killed 100,000 Jews in the Baltic states, 100,000 in Poland, and 200,000 in Russia.

India : Most of the retreating troops of Burma Corps reached India.

Burma : Japanese forces in Burma reached Pantha on the Chindwin River. Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek sent Chinese Fifth Army to cover Myitkiyina

Port Moresby , Papua New Guinea : Australian 14th Militia Brigade arrived at Port Moresby, British Territory of Papua on New Guinea island.

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : At Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, Edwin Layton informed Joseph Rochefort that while Chester Nimitz would like to receive further evidence that Midway Atoll was indeed the next Japanese target. Meanwhile, Chester Nimitz ordered William Halsey to bring his carrier group back to the Hawaiian Islands as a precaution.

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19 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-506 torpedoed and sank US freighter Heredia 100 kilometers southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States at 0856 hours, killing 36 of 62 aboard. Between Jamaica and Haiti at 1040 hours, German submarine U-751 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Isabela, killing 3 of 36 aboard. 200 kilometers southeast of New Orleans and 200 kilometers west of Havana, Cuba, U-103 sank US freighter Ogontz, killing 19 of 41 aboard.

Italian submarine Cappellini torpedoed and sank Swedish cargo ship Tisnaren 600 miles north of Natal, Brazil at 0030 hours; all 40 aboard survived. Sweden was a neutral nation, and Tisnaren had large Swedish flags painted on both sides of the ship.

Libya : Operation Venezia , General Erwin Rommel and his German and Italian staffs plan to attack Gazala Line and Tobruk was approved by OKW (German Army High Command) in Berlin and Commando Supremo (Italian General Staff) in Rome and Panzer Army Afrika command in Libya issued necessary orders to prepare for the offensive operation towards Gazala Line held by Eighth Army (13th Corps made up two Commonwealth infantry divisions holding frontline stretching from Mediterranean coast to 60 miles south on open flank to Bir Hackeim box garrisoned by one Free French Brigade and 30th Corps made up two armored divisions and two supporting armored brigades , total strength 110.000 men , 843 tanks including 120 modern M3 Grant medium tanks , the rest are light or unreliable medium models Crusader , Valentine , Stuart , Matilda models all prone to mechanical breakdown and supported by 600 aircraft from Desert Air Force) within eight days when the full moon is expected in night for the best maneuver time in desert for a suprise offensive. Panzer Army Afrika (Deutsche Afrika Korps made up three German divisions and one Italian armored division) , 20th and 21st Italian Corps made up mainly Italian infantry divisions , start regrouping and redeploying accordingly.

Until May 1942, since Malta came under heavy Axis air attack , heavy losses and eventual retreat of Royal Navy Force K and 10th Submarine Flotilla from Malta , monthly deliveries by Italian naval conmvoys averaged 61,000 tonnes (60,000 long tons), less than the smaller Axis force received from June–October 1941 but sufficient for an offensive. The 1,400 kilometres (900 mi) advance to Gazala succeeded because Benghazi was open, reducing the transport distance for about 33 percent of the supplies of the Panzer Army to 450 kilometres (280 mi). The Italians tried to restrain Rommel by advocating the capture of Malta, which would postpone another offensive in Africa until the autumn but agreed to an attack on Tobruk for late May. An advance would stop at the Egyptian frontier, another 240 kilometres (150 mi) east and the Luftwaffe would redeploy for Operation Herkules. The capture of Malta would not alter the constraints of port capacity and distance; protecting convoys and a large port close to the front, would still be necessary for victory.

Air attacks directed by Field Marshall Kesselring’s Luftflotte II against Malta greatly reduced its offensive capacity (though Luftflotte II ceased şits air offensive over Malta on 11th May and began to be transferred to Eastern Front just in time ehen new Spitfire fighters were ferried to Malta by aircraft carriers USS Wasp and HMS Eagle) , allowing Axis supply convoys from Italy to reach Axis forces in Africa with increased regularity. Operation Venezzia, the Axis plan of attack, was for armoured forces to make a flanking manoeuvre south of the fortified “box” at Bir Hakeim. On the left flank, the 132 Armoured Division Ariete would neutralise the Bir Hakeim box and on the right flank, the 21st Panzer Division and 15th Panzer Division would advance north behind the Eighth Army defences, to destroy the Allied armour and cut off the infantry divisions on the Gazala line. On the far right of the attack, a kampfgruppe (battle group) from the 90th Light Afrika Division was to advance to El Adem, south of Tobruk and cut the line of supply from the port to the Gazala line while holding Allied troops at Tobruk.

The rest of the Italian 20th Motorized Corps, the Italian 101st Motorized Division Trieste, would open a gap in the minefield north of the Bir Hakeim box near the Sidi Muftah box, to create a supply route to the armour. Rommel anticipated that, having dealt with the Allied armour, he would capture El Adem, Ed Duda, Sidi Rezegh and “Knightsbridge”. The Axis tanks would then be in a position to attack on the following day westwards against the Eighth Army defensive boxes between Gazala and Alem Hamza, meeting the eastwards attack by the Italian 20th and 21st corps. By late May, Rommel’s Panzer Army Afrika comprised 90,000 men, 560 tanks (330 German panzers and 230 Italian tanks) , 650 guns supported by 542 Axis aircraft.

One week ago on 12 May, Rommel wrote to his wife, ‘Nothing much to report. Heat and lots of dust … There’s a certain nervousness on our front. The British are expecting us and we them. One day the two forces will measure their strength.’ By now London was indeed expecting Rommel to launch an attack; the Ultra code-breakers at Bletchley Park had decrypted enough Enigma signals to judge that the Panzer Army would be on the move by the end of the month. But astonishingly despite all intelligence information from ULTRA at Bletchley Park to Cairo , neither British Middle East Command (that is General Claude Auchinleck whose reluctance to attack and his outrageous proposals he made to London in March and April 1942 “to abandon Egypt , Middle East and Malta , to transfer all Indian divisions in Middle East back to India to check Japanese advance to the subcontinent” , after all Auchinleck was an Indian Army officer in his heart and could not bear India fall to Japanese , made Churchill seriously to sack him and replace him with General Harold Alexander who just concluded retreat from Burma for the Middle East Commander in Chief) nor Eight Army commander General Neil Ritchie (protogee of Auchinleck and who is complately inexperienced , could not impose authority over his subordinates and unfit for army command) prepared anything serious for the attack. RAF Desert Air Force grounded all air recon flights due to bad weather for a week.

On 19th May , Auchinleck, who was in Cairo, had sent a long letter to Ritchie at Eighth Army headquarters. Clearly concerned about Ritchie’s well-attested limitations but anxious not to undermine his confidence since Ritchie was his choice , he wrote, ‘Do not think I am trying to dictate to you in any way, but this coming struggle is going to be so vital that I feel you must have the benefit of our combined consideration here.’ He identified two possible lines of attack that Rommel might open up. The first would be ‘to envelop our southern flank, seizing or masking Bir Hacheim en route, and then driving on Tobruk’; the second would be ‘a heavy attack on a narrow front … with the object of driving straight to Tobruk’. This, he warned, might be accompanied ‘by a feint against Bir Hacheim … with the aim of drawing off the main body of your armour to the south and so leaving the way open for the main thrust’. While he was careful to remind Ritchie that he should be prepared to face either option, he judged that ‘the second course is the one he [Rommel] will adopt, and is certainly the most dangerous to us’.

Unfortunately, Auchinleck had got it complately wrong (again). Rommel’s plan of attack was precisely the opposite of what the British commander-in-chief supposed. (despite Auchinleck’s acess to ULTRA intelligence or air and ground recon data) His feint was to the north, not the south.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy submarine HMS Thrasher torpedoed and sank Italian merchant ship Penelope 20 miles east of Bari, Italy at 1153 hours.

Moscow , Soviet Union : Joseph Stalin belatedly granted permission for Soviet Southwest Front to halt Kharkov offensive and retreat from Izium salient

Izium - Kharhov , Ukraine : Marshal Timoshenko finally acquired Stalin’s permission orders evacuation of Izium salient unfortunetely he is too late. 3rd Panzer Corps captured Izium itself after a tough fight with Soviet infantry entrenched around and in town hastily. Same day 17th German Army from south and 6th German Army from north also joined the Fredericus counter offensive to nip Izium salient and to trap most of Soviet Southwest Front at Barvenko , west of Kharhov.

Berlin , Germany : In Ukraine , Eastern Front , Soviet partisans, as Goebbels noted in his diary, ‘blasted the railway tracks in the central front between Bryansk and Roslavl at five points—a further proof of their extremely discomfiting activity’. South of that region, Goebbels added, Hungarian troops were fighting ‘under great difficulties’, and he went on to explain: ‘They must now capture one village after another and pacify it, a thing that has not proved exactly a constructive process. For when the Hungarians report that they have “pacified” a village, this usually means that not a single inhabitant is left. In consequence, we can hardly get any agricultural work done in such regions’.

Mannheim , Germany : 198 British bombers (105 Wellington, 31 Stirling, 29 Halifax, 15 Hampden, 13 Lancaster, and 4 Manchester aircraft) from RAF Bomber Command attacked Mannheim, Germany; most bombs would miss the target. 11 bombers were lost on this attack.

Hull , United Kingdom : German bombers attacked Hull, England, United Kingdom in night

Ottawa , Canada : Allied air representatives met at Ottawa to chart Allied air strategy , to increase pilot and aircrew pool and training rate and to create massive air forces to initiate constant round clock stratefgic air offensives over Axis territories

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : US Navy intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Jasper Holmes arrived at the idea that Midway Atoll could send out a fake message regarding the water distiller breaking down, thus the base desperately needed a supply of fresh water. Holmes’ superior Joseph Rochefort gave him the permission to execute this idea in the hopes that the Japanese would pick up this message and provide Rochefort’s team a clue on whether the Japanese Navy’s reference of AF pointed at Midway Atoll. Rochefort’s team also began to find the mention of a new code name, MI, in Japanese messages starting on this date; Rochefort quickly determined it to be the operational code name for the strike on Midway Atoll.


20 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-155 torpedoed and severely damaged Panamanian freighter Sylvan Arrow (of the Standard Oil and Transportation Company) from convoy OT1 , 40 miles southwest of Grenada, killing 1 of 44 aboard; there would be an attempt to tow her back to port, but she would ultimately sink before she reached port.

60 kilometers west of Havana, Cuba, German submarine U-753 torpedoed and sank American Liberty Ship George Calvert with three torpedoes; 10 of 61 aboard were killed during the attack, and 3 survivors were killed while being captured by the Germans; the survivors of George Calvert were freed after interrogation and sent to Cuba on lifeboats. Also on this date in the Gulf of Mexico, German submarine U-506 torpedoed and sank US tanker Halo 50 kilometers south of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, killing 21 of 42 aboard; all but 3 of the survivors would not live before being rescued.

German submarine U-108 intercepted convoy ON93 , torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker Norland from the convoy 500 miles east of Bermuda; all 48 aboard survived. Also in the middle of the North Atlantic, U-158 torpedoed and sank British tanker Darina, killing 6 of 56 aboard.

In the South Atlantic, German armed merchant cruiser Michel stopped Norwegian cargo ship Kattegat at 1845 hours, captured the crew of 32, and sank the ship.

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-431 torpedoed and sank British tanker Eocene 10 miles off Sollum, Egypt; all 43 aboard survived.

Alexandria , Egypt : Admiral Henry Harwood succeeded Sir Andrew Cunningham as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean

Izium Salient , Ukraine : German 6th Army and 1st Panzer Army captured Protopopovka, Ukraine, further threatening the Soviet troops at Izium with encirclement. Soviets 38th and 57th Armies had already stopped Kharkov offensive and turned to east to make first break out attempts, but they were frustrated by Luftwaffe air attacks which had been causing huge chaos and confusion among ranks of Soviet Southwest Front.

Quickly, the Germans achieved considerable success against Soviet defensive positions. The 20 May saw more of the same, with the German forces closing in from the rear. More German divisions were committed to the battle that day, shattering several Soviet counterparts, allowing the Germans to press forward.The Luftwaffe also intensified operations over the Donets River to prevent Soviet forces escaping. Ju 87s from StG 77 destroyed five of the main bridges and damaged four more while Ju 88 bombers from Kampfgeschwader 3 (KG 3) inflicted heavy losses on retreating motorised and armoured columns.

London , UK : Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs, met with Winston Churchill in London, England, United Kingdom and demanded to be told the date of the Second Front when British troops would again land in Europe. Churchill tried to explain that the time was not appropriate for an attack against fortress Europe (Dunkirk was still fresh in his mind and he had no desire to repeat the performance) until Britain was strong enough in arm, men and assault craft for such an ambitious operation. Angrily Molotov declared that he was not satisfied with Churchill’s excuses and threatened to come to terms with the Germans unless the Allies came to the assistance of the Soviet Union immediately.

Singleton report recommends RAF Bomber Command initiate strategic area bombing offensive over Germany proposed by Air Marshal Arthur Harris.

Burma : Japanese 15th Army completed the conquest of Burma. China is isolated , India is under threat of Japanese invasion (though not in near future since Japanese advance over vast territory of Burma also broke down their communications and logistics and 15th Japanese Army is too exhausted to move anymore) All Allied troops previously under the command of William Slim (who was transferred to Indian XV Corps) were reassigned to the British IV Corps, thus dissolving the Burma Corps.

The disaster of Allied defeat in Burma brought an unprecedented death toll in its wake , three quarters of a million refugees perished in Burma roads trying to reach India due to disease , starvation , exhaustion and constant Japanese air and land attacks. Half a million refugees reached India along with 55.000 Nationalist Chinese troops. Many of them will contnue to die in after effects of their ordeal.
Allied military losses are also high , 13.463 British , Indian , Burmaise and Nepalese troops lost their lives during 900 mile long fighting retreat over Burma , compared to 4.600 Japanese killed. The only bright spot is that unlike what happened in Malaya and Burma , not once British or Indian forces lost their unit cohesion in the longest retreat of British Army. They fought stubborn rear guard actions for hundreds of miles of retreat while harrassed by constant air attacks but survived and their morale never collapsed.

South Pacific : US Navy Rear Admiral John S. McCain was named Commander, Air, South Pacific; in this position he directed operations of tender-based and land-based aircraft in the South Pacific.

Pearl Harbour , Hawaii : The Japanese, having intercepted the fake message regarding Midway Atoll’s water distiller breaking down, reported to the invasion fleet the news and advised the fleet to take on additional supplies of fresh water. This message was intercepted by the US Navy radio intelligence team at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, and it allowed the US to confirm that the target of the next Japanese offensive was indeed Midway Atoll. In response, US Navy and Marine Corps dispatched reinforcements to Midway Atoll and the Aleutian Islands in expectation of an assault. On the same day, US Navy intelligence also intercepted a Japanese message containing the order of battle for the Midway Atoll and Aleutian Islands assaults; this message would be decrypted over the next several days.


21 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-103 torpedoed and sank US cargo ships Clare at 0348 hours (all 40 aboard survived) and Elizabeth at 0415 hours (6 were killed, 36 survived) 40 miles west of Cuba. A few minutes later, at 0421 hours, German submarine U-106 torpedoed and sank Mexican tanker Faja de Oro to the north; 10 were killed, 27 survived. This incident along with the Potrero del Llano sinking on the 14th provided a Casus Belli for Mexico to declare war on the Axis next day on 22nd May.
German submarine U-69 torpedoed and sank Canadian cargo ship Torondoc 60 miles northwest of Martinique at 0753 hours; all 21 aboard survived as observed by the Germans, but none would be seen again. 40 miles northwest of Jamaica, German submarine U-558 sank Canadian cargo ship Troisdoc by the deck gun at 1917 hours; all 18 aboard survived. German submarine U-156 torpedoed and sank Dominican cargo ship Presidente Trujillo off Fort de France, Martinique at 1829 hours; 24 were killed, 15 survived.

German submarine U-159 intercepted Allied convoy OS-28 in North Atlantic , torpedoed and sank British cargo ship New Brunswick (3 were killed, 59 survived) and fatally damaged British fleet oiler Montenol which was later scuttled (3 were killed, 61 survived) from Allied convoy OS-28 140 miles east of the Azores islands at 0323 hours.

Arctic Ocean : Allied convoy QP-12 returning to Britain with empty ballast carying cargo ships , departed Murmansk, Russia; it was consisted of 17 merchant ships, escorted by 1 catapult aircraft merchantman, 6 destroyers, 4 trawlers, and 1 anti-aircraft vessel. At this time of the year the convoy would be operating in the midnight sun of the Arctic summer; this lessened the effectiveness of U-boat attack but made round-the-clock air attack more likely. It also increased the chance of early detection by German reconnaissance aircraft

From the other end of the Arctic convoy route, PQ-16 departed Reykjavík, Iceland with 35 merchant ships fully laden with supplies for Russia (biggest convoy ever sailed from Arctic Ocean) , escorted by two CAM fighter catapult ships carrying Sea Hurricane fighters for a limited air cover , one anti aircraft ship , five destroyers , four corvettes ,one minesweeper, and four trawlers. There were two support groups shadowing the convoy ; a Royal Navy Cruiser Cover Force led by R.Adm. HM Burrough in the cruiser HMS Nigeria, and comprising the cruisers HMS Kent, Liverpool, and Norfolk, and destroyers HMS Onslow, Marne, and Oribi, and a Distant Covering Force of the battleships HMS Duke of York and USS Washington, the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, the cruisers HMS London and USS Wichita, and 13 destroyers.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill , trying to keep good relations with Soviet Union , emphasized the importance of this convoy reaching to its destination to the Admiralty , considering heavy casaulties Russians began to suffer in Eastern Front , summing up “Even if %50 of the ships in the convoy sunk , it will be worthwhile that this convoy reaches to Russia”

Izium Salient , Ukraine : German 6th Army from north , 1st Panzer Army and 17th German Army from south continued to threaten three Soviet armies (6th , 38th , 57th Soviet Armies) near Izium, Ukraine with encirclement. Although Timoshenko’s forces successfully regrouped on 21 May, he ordered a withdrawal of Army Group Kotenko by the end of 22 May, while he prepared an attack for 23 May, to be orchestrated by the 9th and 57th Armies.

Sobibor , Poland : On May 21, 4,300 Jews were deported by SS from the town of Chelm to the death camp at Sobibor, less than twenty-five miles away. On arrival, all were gassed. Also on May 21, more than two thousand Jews were taken from their homes in the Volhynian town of Korzec, and murdered in the fields near by by SS Einsatzgruppen execution squads.

Philippines : Japanese troops occupied Leyte and Samar in the Philippine Islands unopposed.

Kure , Japan : Raizo Tanaka led the 2nd Destroyer Squadron, consisted of light cruiser Jintsu and 10 destroyers, out of Kure, Japan to escort the invasion fleet of the Midway operation.

Hawaii , Pacific Ocean : The US Navy established the North Pacific force, initially with 2 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 4 destroyers, 9 destroyer escorts, 5 submarines, and 107 aircraft.

Washington , USA : US Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson met in Washington DC, United States, concluding that there was a risk that the Japanese fleet suspected of sailing for Midway Atoll could actually be planning on conducting a major air raid against cities on the west coast of the United States.

Melbourne , Australia : The US Navy cryptanalytic team in Melbourne, Australia belatedly voiced its agreement that the Japanese Navy was likely targeting Midway Atoll. In Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, Joseph Rochefort furnished the official report noting that Midway Atoll was confirmed as the Japanese target. Chester Nimitz, who had already began to prepare for such an attack, ordered his carriers to exercise radio silence to prevent the Japanese from learning of his attempt to gather Pacific Fleet carriers at Pearl Harbor.


22 May 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-588 torpedoed and sank US freighter Plow City 150 kilometers east of New Jersey, United States at 2010 hours, killing 1 of 30 aboard. U-158 torpedoed and sank Canadian cargo ship Frank B. Baird with the deck gun 465 miles southeast of Bermuda; all 23 aboard survived.

Rastenburg , East Prussia : Hitler postpones Operation Herkules , invasion of Malta till Egypt is conqured by Axis

Izium Salient , Ukraine : In Ukraine, German 14th Division and 16th Panzer Divisions occupied Chepel and Bayrak, while 3rd Panzer Division and 23rd Panzer Division reached Chervonyi Donets and Krasnaia Gusarovka, closing the gap on the Soviet forces near Izium. Although Soviet 57th Army desperately attempted to fend off advancing Wehrmacht and launched initial local counterattacks to relieve several surrounded units, they generally failed under heavy German artillery fire and Luftwaffe raids.

Townsville , Australia : About 600 African-American servicemen mutinied in Townsville, Australia
in reaction to being regularly subjected to racial abuse by some of their white officers. At least one person was killed and Australian troops were called in to roadblock the rioters.

South China Sea : Japanese troop trasnsport Ashaian Maru was torpedoed and damaged by American submarine USS Silversides , the damaged Japanese transport grounded herself on Thai coast

Truk , Marshall Islands : Five Japanese I-class submarines, carrying 4 midget submarines and 1 aircraft, departed for Sydney, Australia.

Bremerton , Washington : American aircraft carrier USS Saratoga departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard after repairs from torpedo damaged.