18 - 24 October 1941

18 October 1941

Japan : General Hideki Tojo was named 40th Prime Minister of Japan.Known as “Razor” and army strongman he extends deadline for diplomatic negotiations with US till 25th November meanwhile secretly began war preperations. Soviet spy Rikard Sorge embedded in German Embassy and German Foreign Ofice was arrested by Japanese police , the latter incident caused quite a shock , stir and emberrasement among German community and German diplomats in Japan plus German Foreign Office overall.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy Cruiser HMS Latona and destroyers HMS Jackal, HMS Havock, and HMAS Nizam arrived in Alexandria, Egypt from Tobruk, Libya. Italian cargo ship Caterina was bombed by a RAF Mariner Martin flying boat and badly damaged she sank next day off Tripoli Libya.

North Atlantic : German submarine U-101 attacked Allied convoy SC-48 west of Iceland, damaging destroyer HMS Broadwater with one torpedo at 0420 hours; 46 crew and 11 previously rescued survivors were killed, 85 crew survived. HMS St. Apollo scuttled HMS Broadwater by gunfire at 1541 hours.

English Channel : Two Brittish freighters Mahseer and Empire Ghyll struck mine and sank in Thames Estuary

Barents Sea : German submarine U-132 sank Soviet cargo ship Argun in the Barents Sea 5 miles off the Russian coast at 1320 hours; all aboard survived. At 2017 hours, U-132 struck again, sinking trawler RT-8 Seld; all aboard were killed.

Russia : German SS Reich and 10th Panzer Divisions captured Mozhaysk, Russia. In the evening, a motorcycle battalion of SS Reich Division found the Minsk Highway toward Moscow, Russia, 90 kilometers to the east, undefended.

Ukraine : German Colonel General Erich von Manstein launched his Eleventh Army against the Perekop Isthmus in Russia but fierce Soviet resistance on a narrow front caused the German advance to proceed extremely slowly.


19 October 1941

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-126 torpedoed and sank American freighter Lehigh 100 miles west of Freetown, British West Africa at 1051 hours; all 38 aboard survived. U-126 had misidentified the American ship as a Greek vessel.
German submarine U-204 sank British tanker Inverlee carrying 35 miles southwest of Tangier, Spanish Morocco at 0300 hours; 22 were killed, 21 survived. In the same region, German submarine U-206 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Baron Kelvin at 0614 hours; 26 were killed, 16 survived. Royal Navy corvettes from Gibraltar were dispatched to hunt for these submarines; Flower class corvette HMS Mallow and sloop HMS Rochester were able to find , locate and sink German submarine U-204 at 2146 hours with depth charges , killing all her 46 crew.

Mediterranean Sea : British gunboat HMS Gnat bombarded a German artillery battery near Tobruk, Libya after sundown.

Yugoslavia : German troops began rounding up men over the age of 16 in the Serbian town of Kragujevac in Yugoslavia. Of the 2,324 gathered, about 300 of them were students from the First Boys High School.

Russia : German troops defeated the Soviet forces within the Vyazma pocket in Russia and captured 670,000 men, 1,000 tanks, and 4,000 artillery pieces. At Volokolamsk, the northwest end of the Mozhaysk defensive line, newly arrived Soviet 316th Rifle Division halted the attack by German 4th Panzer Army. In Moscow, Lavrentiy Beria advised the Soviet GKO to evacuate the capital “or they will strangle us like chickens”, but it was rejected by Joseph Stalin; however, Stalin did order the Politburo (less Stalin, Beria, and Georgy Malenkov) to evacuate.

Ukranie : Taganrog on coast of Azov Sea fell to advancing 11th German Army


20th October 1941

Yugoslavia : In reprisal for partisan attacks the Germans executed 2,324 Serbian men and boys in the Yugoslavian town of Kragujevac, including 300 boys who were herded out of the First Boys High School on the previous day. Local German authorities announced that the mass execution was in resopnse to a recent attack that saw 10 Germans killed and 26 wounded. Furious at partisan activity, Adolf Hitler had previously decreed that for every German soldier killed in attacks, 100 civilian would be executed, and for every German wounded, 50 would be executed.

Nantes , France : French Communist Resistance cells assasinated Lt. Colonel Karl Holz , German military commander of the city.

Mediterranean Sea : After sundown, cruiser HMS Latona and destroyers HMS Kingston, HMS Encounters, and HMAS Nizam departed Alexandria, Egypt for Tobruk, Libya, returning in the early hours of the next day. To protect them, British cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Galatea and Australian cruiser HMAS Hobart, escorted by destroyers HMS Griffin and HMS Jaguar, bombarded German coastal guns near Tobruk.

Italian torpedoboats Aldebaran and Altair entered a British minefield in Gulf of Athens and both sank.

Leningrad Front : In northern Russia, Soviet General Fedyuninsky launched an attack south of Lake Ladoga with 70,000 troops and 97 tanks in an attempt to break through the Leningrad siege. Meanwhile, German troops moved to attack the rail and road junction at Tikhvin 120 kilometers
to the east to strengthen the siege.

Moscow : State of siege was declared in Soviet capital. Alexei Tolstoy , nephew of great Russan writer issues a stirring decleration to Red Army : Grit your teeth and squeeze enemy’s throat , not a step backwards ! Smash German horders with a storm of bombs and fiery storm of artillery , with cold steel of your bayonets and with fury of your anger"

Half a million Russian men and women had been mobilized in Moscow to dig a total of five thousand miles of trenches and anti-tank ditches around the city. At the same time, 185 miles of barbed wire were laid out. The Germans were now only sixty-five miles from the Soviet capital. They had captured more than three million Soviet soldiers. ‘A nightmare picture’, Field Marshal von Bock wrote in his diary on October 20, ‘of tens of thousands of Russian prisoners-of-war, marching with hardly any guards towards Smolensk. Half dead from exhaustion, these pitiful souls trudge on.’ ‘The columns of Russian prisoners moving on the roads’, Colonel Lahousen, an assistant to Admiral Canaris, noted that same day, ‘look like halfwitted herds of animals.’ General von Reichenau’s Sixth Army, Lahousen added, ‘has ordered that all prisoners who break down are to be shot. Regrettably this is done at the roadside, even in the villages, so that the local population are eye-witnesses of these incidents.’

Ukraine : Stalino fell to 1st Panzer Army.


21 October 1941

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy cruisers HMS Aurora (Captain W. G. Agnew) and HMS Penelope (Captain A. D. Nicholl) arrived in Malta and with the destroyers HMS Lance and HMS Lively formed a small squadron known as Force K. For some reason Force K always seemed to go to sea on a Saturday.

Royal Navy cruiser HMS Abdiel and destroyers HMAS Napier, HMS Hasty, and HMS Decoy departed Alexandria, Egypt with supplies for Tobruk, Libya, returning with men of the Australian 9th Division in the early hours of the following day

German submarine U-79 hit British gunboat HMS Gnat with a torpedo 30 miles northwest of Bardia, Libya at 0334 hours, blowing away 20 feet of her bow but caused no casualties. Gnat would be successfully towed back to Alexandria, Egypt where she would serve as a stationary anti-aircraft gun platform.

Vichy French cargo vessel Divana was bombed by RAF Beaufort bombers and beached on Hammamet , Tunisia.

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-123 damaged British armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania with a torpedo 400 miles west of Ireland at 0428 hours; a lifeboat launched sank with 2 killed, 3 rescued by destroyer HMS Croome, and 1 captured by U-123; Aurania was escorting Allied convoy SL-89 and would be successfully towed to port for repairs. At 2200 hours, German submarine U-82 attacked the same convoy, sinking the ships Serbino (14 were killed, 51 survived) and Treverbyn (all 46 aboard were killed).

Black Sea : Soviet submarine M58 hit a mine laid by the Romanians and sank in the Black Sea near the opening of the Danube River, killing all 19 aboard.

Nantes , France : German occupation authorities executed 50 French civilian hostages in retaliation of Lt. Colonel Karl Holz assasination yesterday. The killers were not found or surrendered , 50 more hostages would be executed tomorrow

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22 October 1941

Odessa , Ukraine : An explosion at the Romanian Command Headquarters in Odessa, Ukraine killed 67, including Romanian General Glogojeanu and four German Navy officers. The explosion was caused by a time-delayed bomb left by Soviet Coastal Army personnel during the evacuation. Antonescu ordered 100 Jews and Communists would die for each enlisted man and 300 for each officer killed in this explosion.

France : The assassination of Colonel Karl Hotz in Nantes, France two days prior brought reprisal deaths of 48 French civilians (mostly known French communists) with the promise of 50 more deaths if the assassin was not caught. The shooting of a German major in Bordeaux by French resistance same day , France brought 100 more arrests and 50 immediate executions by Germans.

Marshal Philippe Pétain and Admiral François Darlan broadcast an appeal to the French nation calling restraint from any actions against the occupying German troops which could bring down reprisals on hostages

Russia : General Georgy Zhukov took command of Soviet central sector. 2nd Panzer Army under General Guderians command , resupplied with fuel and ammunition, continued the northeastward advance on Moscow, Russia. German 4th Panzer Division resumed the attack on Mtsensk, Russia. However 1st Soviet Guards Rifle Corps blocked southwest approaches of Moscow in front of Tula.

Mediterranean Sea : Italian cargo ship Marigola was torpedoed and badly damaged by Royal Navy submarine HMS Urge off Tunisia. She will be torpedoed again by HMS Urge and finally sank on 1st November in same area

South Atlantic : German submarine U-68 sank British oiler RFA Darkdale off St. Helena in the South Atlantic at 0142 hours, destroying 3,000 tons of fuel oil, 850 tons of aviation fuel, and 500 tons of diesel oil; 41 were killed, 4 survived including the captain. Darkdale was the first British ship to be sunk south of the Equator in WW2.

Japan : Air defence exercises were carried out through Japan, and Tokyo had its first practice black-out. That same day, an unarmed Japanese reconnaissance aircraft flew from an airbase in Indo-China to the Malayan Peninsula; in his report, the pilot advised that the British airfields of Khota Baru and Alor Star should be the prime objects of the invasion. Plans had also gone ahead to attack Pearl Harbour; a message sent on September 24 from Tokyo to Nagai Kita, instructing him to report on the location of American aircraft carriers at the base, was decrypted in Washington on October 9, but did not ring any alarm bells.


23 October 1941

Odessa , Ukraine : In Odessa, Ukraine, as reprisals to the previous day’s bombing, 5,000 Jews were murdered by shooting, 19,000 Jews were murdered by burning alive inside ghetto buildings, and 20,000 civilians (mostly Jews) were arrested.

Leningrad Front : The Soviet attempt to break out of Leningrad, Russia south of Lake Ladoga was halted by the Germans. Meanwhile, 120 kilometers to the east, two divisions of the Soviet 54th Army were dispatched to reinforce Tikhvin, which had been under attack by the Germans.

Baltic Sea : Soviet submarine SC.323 sank German merchant ship Baltenland in the Baltic Sea.

Russia : The 3rd Panzer Division of 2nd Panzer Army outflanked Soviet troops at Mtensk, Russia, 100 kilometers south of Moscow.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy cruisers HMS Ajax, HMS Neptune, and HMS Hobart, escorted by destroyers HMS Eridge and HMS Avonvale, departed Alexandria, Egypt and bombarded Bardia, Libya. Meanwhile, also from Alexandria, destroyers HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Jupiter, and HMS Hasty bombarded Sollum, Egypt.

Italian cargo ship Maria Pompei struck a mine in Adriatic Sea and sank.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Traunt torpedoed and sank German cargo ship Virginia S. off Taranto harbour. Royal Navy submarine HMS Triumph shelled and sunk a caique transporting German troops and supplies off Crete.

Atlantic Ocean : Battle of Convoy HG75 (Homebound Gibraltar) started. German submarine U-563 torpedoed and badly damaged Tribal class Royal Navy destroyer HMS Cossack while escorting the convoy , after her crew evacuated she will sink next day.

German minesweeper M-6 struck a mine and sank off Lorient

London , UK : Charles de Gaulle met with leaders of resistance movements, asking them to bide their time and protect the lives of innocents

Germany : The German government banned the emigration of Jews.


24 October 1941

Ukraine : Kharkov , the great Soviet industrial city on Donets basin , had fallen to 6th and 17th German Armies after vicious street fighting. The city suffered severely from artillery fire and Luftwaffe air bombing. Russian garrison fought hard for its defence and inflicting many casaulties on Germans before finally they were ordered by Marshal Timoshenko to abandon their positions. Russian retreat was performed in good order , performing a tough rear guard action while regrouping further east. With German occupation of Donets basin , USSR was robbed much of its coal , steel , pig iron and grain resources. German Army Group South also captured Belgorod same day.

Romanian troops massacred Ukranian civilians in the village of Dalnik near Odessa, setting fire to warehouses full of people

Russia : Elements of the German 4th Panzer Division moved from Mtsensk, Russia northward toward Moscow, reaching Chern 20 kilometers away

Atlantic Ocean : Battle of Convoy HG75 continued. At 0636 hours, U-564 joined in on the attack, sinking British cargo ships Carsbreck, Ariosto, and Alhama from this convoy; 30 were killed, 96 survived.

English Channel : British minesweeping trawlers HMS Lucienne Jeanne and HMT Emilion struck naval mines and sank in the Thames Estuary in southern England, United Kingdom.

Mediterranean Sea : After sundown, British minelaying cruiser HMS Abdiel and destroyers HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston, and HMS Griffin departed Alexandria, Egypt with troops and supplies for Tobruk, Libya, returning with troops of Australian 9th Division early in the next day.

Italian cargo ship Achille was bombed and sunk by RAF Wellington bombers in west of Sicily.

British cargo vessel Empire Guillemot was torpedoed and sunk by Italian SM-79 torpedo bombers off Tunisia

Black Sea : Romanian auxilary minesweeper D struck a mine and sank in Black Sea

Berlin : Adolf Eichmann approved a scheme to kill Jews en masse by using exhaust fumes in specially designed gas vans.

France : 50 French communists were executed by the Germans at Camp Souge, France in retaliation for the killing of German occupation administrator Hans-Gottfried Reimers three days prior.