21 -27 June 1942

21 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : At 0400 hours, German submaine U-128 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship West Ira 120 miles east of Barbados; all 49 aboard survived but 1 of them would die before being rescued.

Canadian minesweeper HMCS Georgia attacked a unidentified submarine by ramming off Newfoundland at 0300 hours, sinking what turned out to be Royal Navy submarine HMS P-514, killing all 29 aboard.

Kola Inlet , Murmansk : US cargo ship Alcoa Cadet struck a mine and sank

Bay of Biscay , France : 56 British RAF Bomber Command aircraft deployed naval mines in the Bay of Biscay west of France.

Tobruk , Libya : Erwin Rommel is promoted to rank of Field Marshal , the youngest field marshal ever reached to this rank in German Army

A serious disagreement occurs between main Axis commanders in Mediterranean : Recently promoted Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and German Mediterranean Theater Commander Field Marshal Albert Kesselring gather up with their staffs for a meeting out of Tobruk. Kesselring opens up , according to plans agreed in April since Tobruk fell , next step should be invasion of Malta. However Rommel full of himself and in full arrogant mode disagrees and argues that strategic plan should be modified. Since Eighth Army was “totally destroyed” and its remants are in flight to Egypt-Libyan border , now it is the great oppurtunmity for Panzer Army Afrika to march to capture Egypt , Nile Valley and Sıez Channel.

It seems that overoptimism , victory disease and sudden promotion to field marshal rank went over Rommel’s hand. In that regard it apears he felt fully justified from last decryppted wireless message of US military attache Colonel Bonnar Fellers dated on 20th June (who is an Anglophobe and painted the picture in British ranks a bit more bleaker than actually was just to stick to them) :

“With numerically superior forces, with tanks, planes, artillery, means of transport, and reserves of every kind, the British army has twice failed to defeat the Axis forces in Libya…. The Eighth Army has failed to maintain the morale of its troops; its tactical conceptions were always wrong, it neglected completely cooperation between the various arms; its reactions to the lightning changes of the battlefield were always slow. And if there any oppurtunity for Axis to capture Nile Delta , that oppurtunate time is NOW”

This must have been music to Rommel’s ears. The Italian Military Intelligence Service (SIM), in “a magnificent coup,” had broken the American diplomatic cipher and Fellers’ reports were being sent directly to Rommel. Rommel greatly appreciated the information provided by the “Good Source” or “my little Fellers,” as he called them. One of Rommel’s intelligence staff officers, Hans-Otto Behrendt, stated after the war that the steady stream of intelligence originating from Colonel Fellers was “stupefying in its openness” and “contributed so decisively … to our victories in North Africa.” However no one in Axis side knew or aware of the fact that this report was overly pessimistic in a deliberate sense and more over this would be the last US Cairo military attache reports to be decypered by their codebreakers.

Rommel in full of arrogant and over confident mood clained to Kesselring that Eighth Army was destroyed but if they do not pursue and wait invasion of Malta (which has a very low possibility of sucess since the British air and ground defenses were significantkly strengthened upp there) the remants of British Army could soon reorganise and rebuild it at Egypt-Libyan border or in Egypt. He is fully convinced (but as following events show utterly wrong) that they need to pursue it and never give achance to gather its strength by exploiting the window of oppurtunity to enter Egypt annd capture Nile Valley and Suez.

Kesselring at the other hand definitely opposes that sudden change in plan. Without capturing Malta , it would always be a threat to rear supply and logistics routes in Africa. Besides advancing all the way to Nile Valley from main Axis supply base in Tripoli , Libya (where there was only Axis held deep harbour on African coast exists and that is working in an inadequate unload capacity due to lack of piers , docks and warehouses , at further east Benghazi had even lower unload capacity and under RAF air attack range and Tobruk harbour facilities were heavily damaged) would triple supply distance from main supply base/ harbour unload area in Tripoli to frontline and over extend it to breaking point. Rommel dismisses Kesselring’s arguements , countering that Malta was already neutlised (Kesselring said so in his May 1942 reports) and if necessary can be bombed to irrelevancy again. As for the supply issue , Panzer Army Afrika had just captured 2.000 British trucks in working order plus 1.420 tons of fuel , huge British supply dumps fully of rations (5.000 ton of tinned canned food and dried rations) enough to feed his army as booty in Tobruk. The number of British trucks captured in Gazala Tobruk battles is over 4.000. Surely the supply issue now would take care of itself with these captured stocks. (never accuring that since these are limited and can be consumed faster than expected during action at the end of a huge logistical tail , the captured enemy stocks can never replace sustained logiatical supply system in an efficient working basis. And Rommel also ignores the fact that without spare parts , captured British motorised vehicles would malfunction and break down in time) Now is the time to give final blow to demoralised and routed enemy he claims.

Kesselring definetely disagrees and due to recent transfers of Luftwaffe air fleets plus needs to blockade Malta from the air and staging air raids to Malta , air bridge supply attempts of Panzer Army from Italy to Libya and last four weeks of extremely savage and intense air operation over Gazala and Tobruk , exhausted and temporarily put Luftwwaffe in Mediterranean out of action till rest , repair and replacement issues taken care of. Both machines and air crews were in dire need of maintenance and rest respectively and replacements and supplies to be brought back to full operational status. Besides as Panzer Army woul advance further west towards Egypt he adds it would go out out of Luftwaffe air cover range and expect no air support for weeks since Axis airfields in Libya would be left far behind and meanwhile Panzer Army ground forces (which are already exhausted and in dire need of replacements , maintenance and rest themselves due to casaulties they suffered in Gazala and Tobruk battles) would enter range of RAF Desert Air Force squadrons utilising excellently equipped Egyptian airbases and concludes that “Under these conditions , it is my firm conviction that marching to Nile Valley would be utter madness”

Rommel at the other hand still full of himself and over optimism , is not deterred and intending to go over Kesselring’s head (who is nominally his superor though in same rank since his own recent promotion) and apply directly to Berlin , Hitler and Musolini to get permission to invade Egypt immediately. He already took steps to requisition supply stocks reserved for Operation Herkules , airborne and seaborne invasion project , convinced that Malta can be taken later after capturing Egypt.
‘I am going on to Suez,’ was Rommel’s official reply to Hitler. Later, however, he remarked to his wife: ‘I would rather he (Hitler) had given me one more division.’

Meanwhile General Neil Ritchie decided to fall back to Mersa Matruh and ordered 13th Corps to delay the enemy. So far Eighth Army lost 50,000 men killed, wounded or captured, including. 33,000 prisoners taken at Tobruk. Since batle of Gazala started on 26th May , Germans suffered 3,360 casualties, about 15 per cent of their force. Italian casualties were 3,000 men, 125 tanks, 44 armoured cars, 450 motor vehicles, 39 guns and seventy-four 47 mm anti-tank guns.

The Eighth Army lost thousands of tons of supplies, nearly 800,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, nearly 13 million rounds of small-arms ammunition and a huge number of tanks. Hundreds of damaged tanks had been left behind when armoured regiments retreated and it was estimated that there were 1,188 tank casualties in 17 days. On 22 June, the Desert Air Force had 463 operational aircraft, 420 of them in the Middle East, the Germans 183 and the Italians 238, with another 174 in reserve and 500 in the Mediterranean excluding Italy. The Royal Army Ordnance Corps recovered 581 tanks up to 19 June, repaired 278 and sent 222 back to Egypt (326 being US-made tanks). The Eighth Army was reduced to about 185 operational tanks by the end of the battle and shuffling operational tanks and crews between units disrupted unit organisation. Seven field artillery regiments, 6,000 lorries and two tank repair workshops (which had been moved into Tobruk) were lost.

General Francis Tuker , resourceful and talented commander of 4th Indian Infantry Division (as we shall see in Battles of El Alamein between July-November 1942) summarised sad tale of British Army in Gazala Tobruk battles with this quote “This was the most unnnecessary defeat and worst led battle of British Army history”

Syria : In Syria, the 9th Australian Division, part of the heroic defence of Tobruk (nicknamed as Rats of Tobruk) previous year, took the news badly. Sergeant Joe Madeley of the 2/13th Battalion was as disbelieving as the Prime Minister. ‘My mate Rex McDonald turned to me,’ says Joe, ‘and said, “To think of all those flaming holes we dug up there and now the Germans and Eyeties are in ’em.”’

Nearby, the photographer Cecil Beaton was watching a military exercise. The smokescreens and artillery fire were certainly impressive but he was once again suffering from the oppressive heat. ‘But,’ he noted later that day, ‘there was much greater reason why I should feel so miserable – the news was whispered from man to man that Tobruk had fallen.’ One soldier was severely reprimanded for saying that the Germans would be in Cairo in a week. ‘I am not ashamed of saying,’ Cecil admitted, ‘that I felt absolutely sick with panic.’ Like Churchill, he believed it was ‘one of the most crushing disappointments of the war’.

Within three days 10th Corps in Syria , 9th Australian Division and 2nd New Zealand Division would be ordered back to Egypt. General Auchinleck began reinforcing Egypt defences since neither he nor Ritchie believed Rommel would stop at Tobruk

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Swordfish torpedo bombers from Malta hit and heavily damaged Italian destroyer Strale with a torpedo , Strale had to ground herself off Cape Bon to prevent sinking and totally wrecked. All Italian efforts to salvage her failed. The wreck of Strale , later same day was torpedoed by Royal Navy submarine HMS Turbulent on Cape Bon and the wreck was totally destroyed.

Nine RAF Coastal Command Beaufort torpedo bombers from Malta hit and sank German cargo ship Reichenfels with a torpido hit off Benghazi , three Beaufort torrpedo bombers were shot down by German anti aircraft fire

Southampton , England : 50 German Luftwaffe aircraft conducted a raid on Southampton, England, United Kingdom. Five of them were short down by anti aircraft fire or RAF interceptors.

Washington , USA : In Washington, United States, during a meeting with Prime Minister Churchill , British Chief of Staff General Alan Brooke and US Chief of Staff General George Marshall , Roosevelt handed a recently arrived telegram to Winston Churchill without comment. It announced that the 33,000-man garrison in Tobruk, Libya had surrendered. wrote later: “This was one of the heaviest blows I can recall during the war.” A shocked Churchill gave the telegram to President Rossevelt , muttering : “Defeat is one thing but disgrace is another !”

To their credit , no one in US side of meeting rubbed this latest defeat on their British guests. Everyone realised gravity of situation , with Tobruk gone , Nile Valley , Suez and Middle East was open to Axis offensive (if it was conducted properly) President Rossevelt asked : “What can we do to help ?” Churchill requested him to send a few hundred of latest US manufactured (though design was US and UK joint design) M4 Sherman medium tankls to be sent to Middle Easy. The American President immediately ordered General Marshall to send, by the fastest American ships, 300 new Sherman tanks and a hundred self-propelled guns to Egypt despite these tanks were reserved for use of US troops still in training. Marshall summarised “British need those tanks immediately and they will get them”

The tanks, less engines, were loaded into fast cargo ships. The 300 tank engines were loaded into a single ship, the 6,200-ton American Fairport. This special fast military convoy, AS 4, sailed hurriedly from New York on July 13, escorted by two cruisers and seven destroyers.

In addition to tanks , six American Army Air Forces groups: three fighter, one medium bomber, and one heavy bomber (B-24s). One fighter group, the 57th, composed of seventy P-40s, was rushed mostly to Middle East on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. Departing the States on July 1, she was escorted by Task Force 22: the heavy cruiser Augusta, the brand-new light cruiser USS Juneau, and six destroyers. As before, USS Ranger launched these planes while at sea off the Gold Coast (on July 19). They flew to Accra, Ghana, thence to Egypt. The rest of these air groups plus 4,000 Army Air Forces ground personnel began moving to North Africa by ship or other means in July.

On 21st June also , Admiral Ernest King , commander of US Navy wrote a tense reply to General Marshall , US Army Chief of Staff about latest shipping crisis and U-Boat offensive in US Eastern Seabord and Gulf of Mexico. “Though we are still suffering heavy losses outside the east convoy zone,” King wrote, “the situation is not hopeless.” He stressed these points:

• The U-boat threat could only be eliminated completely by “wiping out the German building yards and bases” with heavy bomber attacks. This was a matter which King had been “pressing with the British, so far with only moderate success.” (Admiral King was wrong since German submarine pens were with reinfoerced concentrate roofs were resistant to any air bombing except latest stage of developed British heavy shock bombs that will enter to service in 1944)

• Meanwhile, if all shipping could be brought under defensive escort and air cover, “our losses will be reduced to an acceptable figure.” King went on to emphasize his unwavering view that “escort is not just one way of handling the submarine menace; it is the only way that gives any promise of success.”*

• Alluding to the Army Air Forces’ doctrine of offensive “hunter-killer” air patrols to the exclusion of defensive convoy escort, King again threw cold water on that approach. “The so-called patrol and hunting operations have time and again proved futile,” he wrote. The only efficient way to kill U-boats at sea was to attack “continuously and relentlessly” those U-boats that had been drawn to the convoys.
However, this was a doctrine that required enormous numbers of radar-equipped, well-trained surface escorts and land- and carrier-based aircraft, not yet in sight, let alone in hand. King concluded his memo by asking Marshall for assistance in five categories:

• Build up, “as soon as practicable,” a force of about 1,000 radar-equipped Army aircraft to patrol the projected 7,000 miles of convoy lanes in the Eastern, Gulf, Caribbean, and Panama Sea Frontiers. This airpower was not to be “a temporary measure pending augmentation” of naval surface forces but rather “a permanent arrangement” to “protect our shipping properly.”

• Reduce requests for “special convoys” to rush Army troops to “the Caribbean and other local danger zones” until such time as surface escorts were plentiful. The protection provided for “special convoys” diminished the protection available for “shipping in general.”

• Reduce unescorted cargo-ship movements, and insist that such ships travel in established convoys. • Reduce the growing requirements for the protection of important coastal structures, such as oil refineries, from U-boat gun bombardments, which were “not formidable,” only “occasional,” and easily thwarted.

• Examine every “new project with respect to its effect on our antisubmarine effort.” Any such military proposal or operation that “retards the output of antisubmarine vessels or involves the diversion of vessels engaged in protection of merchant shipping will unduly aggravate the present bad situation.”

Athe end of the conferance in Washington , US strategists (General Marshall and Admiral King) are still in disagreement with their British collegues General Alan Brooke and Prime Minister Winston Churchill abıout whether trying to land France to open a Second Front immediately in 1942 to relieve Russians in East (which Marshall advocates regardless of the fact that no preperation , plannning or enough force supply build up was achieved and German submarine threat in Atlantic is threatrening to sever suply lines to UK and any Second Front in France) or open up a Second Front in North Africa by landinmg and capturing French Northwest Africa (Operation Torch , which Churchill and Alan Brooke fiercely advocate) No responsible British military authority’, Churchill wrote, ‘has so far been able to make a plan to open a Second Front in France for September 1942 which had any chance of success unless the Germans became utterly demoralised, of which there is no likelihood. Have the American Staffs a plan?’ both Churchill and British Imperial Chief of Sraff Alan Brooke asked. In effect, Churchill was telling the President that it was Gymnast (initial code name for Operation Torch to land North West Africa) or nothing.

Bletchley Park , UK : Thanks to British crypto analysts broke through German Enigma wireless messages , British MI5 security service discovered there was a severe security leak in US Embassy in Cairo , US through US military attache radio reports to Washington. Deducting that it could be only Col. Bonnar Fellers whose reports daily relayed to War Department in Washington , British Ministry of Defense warns US War Department on 23rd June. Next day US State Department Black Code radio encryption is changed and Colonel Fellers is reassigned back to US. Rommel’s “Good Source” is dried up for good.

Sevastapol , Crimea : While 11th German Army is reducing the main Soviet fort defences on north , , 30th Corps alternated between attack and defence. The Soviet forces held the Sapun Ridge and could observe German movements. On occasion they could deliver effective counter battery fire. Between the 21–28 June, the Germans lost 10 artillery pieces, including five 150 mm s. FH 18 medium howitzers. In the centre, the Romanians took up the slack. The German 18th Infantry, 1st, and 4th Mountain Divisions, supported by 100 guns, gradually advanced up the Chernaya River towards the mouth of the river and Severnaya Bay.

Rastenburg , East Prussia : Adolf Hitler reluctantly decided to delay his summer offensive due to the heavy Soviet defense of Sevastopol, Crimea.

Moscow , Soviet Union : The Reichel papers captured the day before from shot down German Fiesseler Storch aircraft over Soviet South Western front were sent at once to Front HQ , and that same day (19 June) Soviet HQ , South-Western Front, transmitted the contents of the captured papers to Bryansk Front HQ and sent the actual documents on to the General Staff in Moscow. General Golikov who is commanding Bryansk Front , now knew that 40th Panzer Corps (3rd, 23rd, Panzer Divisions, 29th Motorized Infantry, 100th and 376th Infantry Division) would attack from Volchansk to Novy Oskol, would take part in an offensive aimed at Voronezh and would commit its main force against Ostrogorzhsk in 23rd June. It was plain for all to see that the German blow was going to fall on the junction of the Bryansk and South-Western Fronts. The General Staff, its gaze riveted on Golikov’s northern wing, had been disastrously wrong in its estimate of German intentions, and now to back up the information obtained from the Reichel papers Soviet reconnaissance planes were bringing in aerial photos of considerable German concentrations.

Solomon Islands , South West Pacific : American submarine USS S-44 torpedoed and sank converted gunboat Keijo Maru in northern Savo Sound, Solomon Islands. She was immediately counterattacked by Japanese aircraft, causing damage to her depth gauges, gyrocompass, and the ice machine due to flooding.

US Western Seaboard : On the Pacific coast of the United States, a Japanese submarine shelled a military depot at Fort Stevens, Oregon, on the estuary of the Columbia river. It was the first attack by any foreign power on a military installation on the continental United States since the British attacks during the war of 1812. The damage done was trivial, however, nor was the attack to be repeated.

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22 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-202 (Korvettenkapitän Hans-Heinz Linderand) torpedoed and sank Argentinian cargo ship Rio Tercero 120 miles southeast of New York, New York, United States at 1234 hours; 5 were killed, 37 survived. This led to demonstrations off the German Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Once again Germany acknowledged her responsibility and offered to pay reparations and gave assurances that no further attacks on Argentine vessel would be made.

While patrolling off Halifax harbour , Canada , German submarine U-87 was detected by an airborne radar equipped Hudson aircraft of RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Squadron 11 found and attacked submarine on the surface, but missed. The next day the squadron leader, W. C. Van Camp, saturated the area with five aircraft. At dawn, one of the Canadian Hudson aircraft came out of the sun and fog and caught U-87 on the surface and dropped three close depth charges near her stern. The explosions knocked the port diesel engine off its mounts, wrecked the stern tube (and its torpedo), and damaged part of the aft main-storage battery. For the second time in as many patrols to Canadian waters, U-87 was forced to abort with battle damage and limped home, lucky to have survived.

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : Norwegian tanker Nortind, damaged by German submarine U-67 in the Gulf of Mexico two days prior, arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana, United States for repairs. German submarine U-159 disabled and sank US tanker E. J. Sadler with gunfire 175 miles south of Puerto Rico at 2035 hours; all 36 aboard escaped via 4 lifeboats.

Bay of Biscay : German anti submarine vessel Sperrbrecher 14 Brockenheim struck a mine and sank off Royan , France

Tobruk , Libya : Rommel by-passed the chain of command (his superior Kesselring) by writing directly to Mussolini via the German attaché in Rome, Enno von Rintelen, requesting that the offensive be allowed to continue and that the Malta invasion be postponed to preserve his air support. Mussolini forwarded the letter to Hitler, who had been harbouring doubts about the Malta operation.

Field Marshal Kesselring returned to Sicily , still unconvinced that marching into Egypt without Malta secured first and Luftwaffe assets concentrated in Africa afterwards , is “utter madness”, while Rommel went over his superior’s head by appealing directly to both Hitler and Mussolini – which in the case of Hitler was now his right as a Field Marshal. Mussolini had suffered his fair share of humiliations since the beginning of the war, so the chance to enter Cairo in triumph was met with delight. He promptly arranged to fly over to Africa, with his favourite white stallion, to lead the procession into Cairo himself. Hitler was also only too happy to go along with the man now being fêted by the German propaganda machine. After the losses suffered in Crete, he had lost enthusiasm for airborne invasions anyway.

So the decision was made. Hitler duly endorsed his new favourite Rommel’s plan despite what Afrikskorps Chief of Staff General von Mellenthin described as ‘the reasoned and powerful objections’ of the most influential members of both OKW and Comando Supremo, signalling Mussolini, ‘it is only once in a lifetime that the Goddess of Victory smiles’. Hitler wrote to Benito Mussolini with “heartfelt advice” recommending that he postpone Operation Herkules (invasion of Malta) and instead “order the continuation of operations to seek the complete destruction of British forces to the very limits of what your high command and Marshal Rommel think is militarily possible with their existing troops. The goddess of fortune in battle comes to commanders only once, and he who fails to seize the opportunity at such a moment will never be given a second chance.” Mussolini complied with Hitler’s veiled order and postponed Herkules to September. It was a fateful decision: by agreeing that the capture of Cairo should precede the destruction of Malta, Hitler had made a strategic error of such magnitude as to seal Rommel’s fate at El Alamein and, eventually, that of the Axis armies in North Africa.

On 22 June, Germany’s newest field marshal issued a declaration to his men. ‘Soldiers of the Panzer Army Afrika! Now for the complete destruction of the enemy. We will not rest until we have shattered the last remnants of the British Eighth Army.’

Immense difficulties still faced the German and Italian armies in the desert, however, as both Cavallero and Kesselring realized. With Malta once more functioning as a British naval and air base a supply crisis in North Africa was inevitable, and they pointed out to Rommel that while every effort would be made to run convoys from Italy into Cyrenaica , for some time to come the army there would have to live off its captures. Despite Rommel (without any reasoning or any tangible factor supporting his arguement) assured that as long as Tobruk and Mersa Matruh was at Axis hands , the supply situation would take care of itself , that was over optimistic at best. In addition it was now more than ever necessary to continue the air offensive against Malta and this would have the effect of reducing the Luftwaffe’s support for Rommel at a time when the Desert Air Force could be expected to grow in strength as it drew closer to its main bases.

In any case due to exhaustion of air crews , the maintenance of machines and Axis airfields in Cyreneica being left far behind in east with Panzer Army over extending towards east towards Egypt and in addition blockading and supressing Malta missions in Mediterranean , Kesselring already made it clear there would be no Luftwaffe air cover for Panzer Army Afrika for at least a few weeks.

Egypt-Libyan Frontier : General Ritchie’s plan was General Gott’s 13th Corps should screen the 8th Army and delay any German advance for as long as possible. Gott was not expected to fight and win any major battles and the preservation of his force for action with a reinvigorated army was important. 30th Corps (Norrie) had been dispatched back to El Alamein well insider Egypt , 120 km away dfrom Alexandria to establish a defensive position blocking access to the Nile. He had taken with him the 1st South African Division and Gott was probably relieved to see the back of the mutinous General Pienaar commanding 1st South African Division.

Ritchie decided not to defend the Egyptian border because it was in effect no more than a line on the map and had no attractive and defendable features. He focused his initial defence on the coastal town of Mersa Matruh, about 100 miles inside Egypt. He disposed his forces by placing 2nd New Zealand Division just arriving from Syria , 10th Indian Division and 50th Division under command of the newly arrived 10th Corps (General Holmes), which had come from Syria. The 10th Corps was centred on Gerawla, about 15 miles further down the coast.

General Claude Auchinleck then flew to see Ritchie the following day. Never in their worst nightmares had they expected Tobruk to fall in a day, but it was now clear they no longer had time to build up strength at the frontier. Gott, quite reasonably, had pointed out to the Eighth Army commander that the further they were away from Rommel, the bigger the Axis logistical headache would be, and so suggested they immediately fall back again to Mersa Matruh, another 120 miles further east in Egypt across almost waterless, featureless desert. This had also been discussed in Cairo and became the basis for the new plan. The dimisihed and understrength armored brigades and 7th Motor Brigade, plus a few other units, would hold up the Axis as long as possible at the Libyan-Egypt frontier, then fall back all the way to the Alamein Line, a narrow stretch of land forty miles wide, which, unlike the Gazala Line, had its flanks closed at both ends – by the sea in the north and by the impassable Qattara Depression in the south. Meanwhile, at Mersa Matruh, the soon-to-arrive 10th Corps, along with the 5th Indian Division, would prepare defences and ready themselves to take on Rommel once more to slow down advance of Panzer Army Afrika.

General Bernard Freyberg’s 2nd New Zealand Division took orders to be trasnsferred from Aleppo Syria , to be deployed into Mersa Matruh , Egypt a few days ago on 18th June. Lead elements of division began to gather up in Cairo en route to Mersa Matruh. the next day the New Zealanders were heading south with utmost speed. En route to Egypt, on June 22 the leading New Zealand Brigade received the order from Freyberg “to proceed to MERSA ­MATRUH with all possible speed.”

When the Australians and New Zealanders arrived back in Egypt, after a 1,200-mile journey by road or rail, they were alarmed with what they found. A senior New Zealand officer recalled:

“Eighth Army poured through us, not looking at all demoralised except for the black South African drivers, but thoroughly mixed up and disorganised. I did not see a single formed fighting unit, infantry, armour, or artillery.”

The New Zealand commander, Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg, cabled his government on June:

“There is no doubt our forces in Western Desert have suffered a major reverse and situation at the moment causes anxiety. General Auchinleck has a difficult task here with inadequate resources and inferior tank gun and anti-tank gun.”

What shocked Freyberg most was the confusion that gripped Eighth Army at the time, especially the lack of clear direction from its leadership. Freyberg later reported to the New Zealand government:

"This continued vacillation shook me, but not nearly as much as the tempo of the troops coming down the Sidi Barrani road…. What I was most anxious about was not to allow panic orders to put us in an impossible position. I was determined to appeal to the New Zealand Government if necessary and I went to see the Eighth Army Commander to protest against being shut up in Mersa Matruh. This could have ended in only one way. My next orders were to go into the Naghamish Wadi—almost an impossible position. Again I pointed out the inadvisability of committing a highly trained division to such a mission. Eventually I persuaded them to let us meet the full thrust of the German Army head on. We picked an area on high ground south of Mersa Matruh, where there was room to manoeuvre and to use our powerful guns to the full. "

The scout battalion of 21st Panzer Division reaches Bardia , Libya which had been complately evacuated by Allies in the morning.

Sevastapol , Crimea : Soviet lines east and south of Sevastopol, Russia began to falter under pressure of 11th German Army

Baltic Sea : Soviet submarine ShCh-317 torpedoed and sank Swedish cargo ship Ada Thorthon 5 miles west of Gotland island in the Baltic Sea; 14 were killed, 8 survived.

Kharkov , Ukraine : German Army Group South launched Operation Fridericus II near Kharkov, Ukraine in preparation for Unternehmen Blau. A He 111 bomber of 9. Staffel of KG 55 scored a lucky hit with a 1,000-kg bomb on a bridge over the River Oskol at Kupiansk about 100 kilometers (about 50 miles) southeast of Kharkov, causing serious logistics problems for the Soviets.

Bryansk Front , Russia : General Golikov’s (Soviet Bryansk Front commander) officers still had no precise information on German order of battle, apart from knowing the number of formations committed to the first echelon; above all, there was nothing specific about German armoured strength. On 22 June, the date set in Reichel’s papers for the German attack, Golikov reported by radio telephone to the Stavka that six or seven Panzer and motorized formations were definitely concentrating in the Kursk area and more reinforcements were moving up by rail; since Marshal Timoshenko had done nothing to strengthen 21st Army, Golikov sought express permission to appoint a special commander for the ‘Voronezh zone’. Stalin and Shaposhnikov refused to agree to this, apparently suspecting a German trap. When the German attack failed to materialize, even Golikov’s staff began to fear a ‘plant’ over the Reichel papers. Front HQ had already moved from the pleasantly hospitable town of Yelets to its battle-station at Arkhangelsk: Golikov checked defensive readiness with each army commander. But for all the tension of the night, the day broke peacefully, without a sign of attack.

During the next twenty-four hours, Golikov reported more German traffic in the direction of Kursk and movement from Orel to Kursk, but his orders remained unchanged and his actions limited to sending out Soviet planes to bomb German concentrations.

Moscow , Soviet Union : The great irony was that Stalin, when told of the captured Reichsel papers, dismissed them out of hand as forgeries. Reverting to his obsessive obstinacy of the previous year, he refused to believe anything which contradicted his own view that Hitler would again strike at Moscow.

Even though other intelligence backed up the evidence of the captured plans, and even though he knew how desperate Germany was for oil, Stalin continued to believe that any German attack towards the south and the Caucasus would be, at most, a secondary objective. He, and Colonel-General Aleksandr Vasilevskiy, newly appointed as Chief of the Soviet General Staff, believed the aim might be to draw reserves away from Moscow, which, they thought, was still the Germans’ main objective.

Emden , Germany : 227 British bombers aircraft (144 Wellington, 38 Stirling, 26 Halifax, 11 Lancaster, and 8 Hampden) from RAF Bomber Command attacked Emden, Germany, destroying 50 houses, damaging harbor facilities, and killing 6 civilians (further 40 were injured); 6 bombers were lost on this mission , shot down bu AA gun batteries or Luftwaffe nightfighters

Wales , UK : A latest version of Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf 190 fighter aircraft was captured by British when one of them accidently landed on a field in Wales.

Anxious to learn the secrets of the Luftwaffe’s new Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, the British was planning a Commando-type raid to steal one from a French airfield. They were saved the trouble when disorientated German pilot Lieutenant Arnim Faber of 111/JG2 landed his Fw 190A-3 fighter at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, United Kingdom, mistaking it for an airfield in France. The captured aircraft was taken to the Air Fighting Development Unit at Duxford, England, United Kingdom where it was discovered, during trials, that the Fw 190A was superior in all respects except turning circle to the Spitfire VB then equipping most of RAF Fighter Command. The new updated Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Typhoon models coming to service , are designed according to these specifications and better than Focke-Wulf 190A.

Berlin , Germany : In Berlin, on June 22, SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann informed his subordinates of the plan of Operation Heydrich: in the ‘first instance’, he explained, 40,000 Jews were to be deported from France, 40,000 from Holland and 10,000 from Belgium. They were to be sent to Auschwitz, at a rate of a thousand a day: one train a day. ‘No objections to these measures’, Eichmann noted, ‘had been raised on behalf of the Foreign Office….’

Vichy , France : Vichy French Prime Minister Pierre Laval made a radio broadcast in which he stated, “I wish for a German victory, because, without it, Bolshevism tomorrow would settle everywhere.” This speech shocked many of the French people who were still holding out hope that the Vichy regime was playing a waiting game with the Germans until France could be liberated in an Allied victory

China : Joseph Stilwell was made the Comanding General, China-Burma-India Theater.

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23 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-84 torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker Torvanger 540 miles west of the Azores islands; 4 were killed, 33 survived.

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-159 sent a boarding to US tanker E. J. Sadler 175 miles south of Puerto Rico just after 0000 hours to scuttle the tanker which she had disabled at 2035 hours on the previous day. After that the tsanker was scuttled.

German submarine U-158 torpedoed and sank US Army transport ship Major General Henry Gibbins 400 miles west of Key West, Florida, United States; the entire crew of 47 and all 21 gunners survived, to be rescued on the following day. 40 miles south of South Pass, Louisiana, United States, German submarine U-67 torpedoed and sank US tanker Rawleigh Warner, killing all 33 aboard.

In the Caribbean Sea, German submarine U-68 torpedoed and sank Panamanian tanker Arriaga 100 miles west of Aruba; 1 was killed, 24 survived. 100 miles east of Grenada in the Antilles islands, German submarine U-128 torpedoed and sank a Norwegian tanker Andreas Brovig ; all 38 aboard survived

200 miles east of Nicaragua, U-172 sank Colombian sailing boat Resolute with gunfire and hand grenades; 6 were killed, 4 survived.

North Sea : German minesweeper Sperrbrecher 183 struck a mine and sank off Dunkerque , France

Bay of Biscay : While returning from her first patrol in Gulf of Mexico back to her base in France , German submarine U-753 was homebound in the Bay of Biscay in the late afternoon of June 23 , a RAF Coastal Command Whitley bomber aircraft from Squadron 58, piloted by W. Jones, found her with ASW radar on the surface and depth-charged her. The initial attack was skillful: the explosions knocked out U-753’s diesels and rendered her incapable of diving. The British failed to follow up the attack and, although “badly damaged,” U-753 managed to survive. France-based German aircraft and motor launches found U-753 the next morning and escorted her into La Pallice, where she remained out of action for the next three months.

This calamity, atop the British Coastal Command aircraft attacks on other submarines in June, persuaded Admiral Dönitz on June 24 1942 , to change procedures for crossing the Bay of Biscay. Until then, the orders were fairly loose, leaving tactics up to the skippers. Most preferred to run on the surface day and night to get across this increasingly dangerous area as quickly as possible, relying in daytime on lookouts to spot enemy aircraft early enough to dive to safety, and feeling more or less immune to attack at night. Since the radar-equipped Leigh Light RAF Coastal Command Wellington bombers rendered surface travel risky day or night, Admiral Dönitz decreed specifically that all German submarines were to cross the Bay of Biscay submerged, surfacing only briefly at night to recharge their batteries and to refresh the air in the submarine.

This was not a welcome change in as much as German submarines could barely log more than a hundred miles a day, and this greatly prolonged the crossing and reduced time in the operating areas, but it was intended to be only temporary, pending the arrival of the Metox radar detectors, or FuMBs, and much-improved antiaircraft weaponry, including twin 37mm and 20mm rapid-fire guns. With Metox and these more powerful weapons, Dönitz believed that a submarine could successfully fight it out with an enemy plane in daytime, hence travel on the surface during the day could be resumed. (a mistaken belief as it turned out)

Libyan-Egypt Frontier : Panzer Army Afrika began Operation Aïda an advance upon Egypt. Panzer Army Afrika led by 90th German Light Division recon battalion crossed the Libyan-Egyptian border and marched toward the Allied defensive positions at Mersa Matruh, Egypt 100 miles to the east, engaging units of the British 7th Armoured Division en route at Sollum before British armored brigades themselves too understrength and under orders not to make a stand , retreat. Rommel’s aim is to swing around British defenses at Sidi Barrani and Sollum, reach the sea at Matruh, surrounding the 8th Army. However, Rommel is surrounding an empty bag. Ritchie has withdrawn the 8th Army to Matruh.

Rommel claims he would be in Alexandria by 30th June. Mussolini at the other hand , exultant , orders his private plane to be readied for himself to pilot along with his private charger and white stallion to be shipped to Derna , Libya. On this white horse of his , he is planning to ride on when entering to Alexandria.

At the other side of the hill , General Claude Auchinleck Commander in Chief Middle East Theater cabled Churchill. ‘I deeply regret that you should have received this severe blow at so critical a time as a result of the heavy defeat suffered by the forces under my command.’ With an exceptional degree of grace and humility, he added, ‘I thank you personally and most sincerely for all your help and support during the past year, and deeply regret the failures and set-backs of the past month, for which I accept full responsibility.’ The only words missing from this mea culpa were ‘and I therefore tender my resignation as C-in-C, Middle East’. For the time being, a chastened Auchinleck had decided to stay his hand.

Given the acute pressures to which he was subjected, Churchill’s reply was surprisingly forgiving, though not entirely unbarbed. ‘Whatever views I may have had about how the battle was fought or whether it should have been fought a good deal earlier, you have my entire confidence, and I share your responsibilities to the full.’ Churchill too had decided to stay his hand. He may have judged that to dispense with Auchinleck at this juncture would be interpreted as an unseemly attempt to pass the buck or to divert attention from his own political troubles; in any case, it was militarily the worst possible moment to change the command, let alone to find an immediate successor from the limited pool of talent available to him. For now he stuck with Auchinleck.

Mersa Matruh , Egypt : The 2nd New Zealand Division took up position on an escarpment called Minqar Qaim in the belief that it was to take part in a major set-piece battle that would halt the Panzerarmee in its tracks. Its orders from 13 Corps were “to secure a box in the area MINQAR QAIM in order to deny the escarpment to the enemy, and to operate all round with mobile columns to attack and delay the enemy advance.”

Although General Freyberg had put his 2nd New Zealand Division into the fortress alongside with 50th British Infantry and 10th Indian Divisions of 10th Corpsand had set it at work restoring the defences, he had made up his mind that he would not permit it to be held in the Matruh or any other box. He regarded box defences as traps in which isolated defenders were overrun by the enemy at his convenience. He also doubted whether in the prevailing circumstances Matruh could be held. A suggestion that the Division might support the defence of Matruh from the adjacent Naghamish Box, a wadi incorporated in the ‘Kiwi’ anti-tank ditch dug by 4 Brigade in 1940, was equally disliked.

On more specific grounds, Freyberg thought it wrong to confine the highly trained, mobile New Zealand Division in a fortress. The Division was up to strength in men and arms, it was the only complete division then available in the desert, and in numbers and fire power was the equal of any other two divisions in Eighth Army. Some additional transport, however, was needed to make it fully self-contained.

Freyberg put these views to General Norrie, 30 Corps, and again to General Holmes, 10 Corps, when the latter took command of the fortress on 23 June. That afternoon he went with Holmes to Ritchie’s headquarters prepared to bring the issue to a head. He was ready to say that the New Zealand Division would be thrown away if it were kept in the Matruh fortress, and that, if necessary, he would refer the matter to the New Zealand Government. He told Holmes he realised this attitude might precipitate a crisis, but that risk would be taken for the sake of the Dominion and the Division.

Unknown to the New Zealanders was the fact that Auchinleck had decided against fighting a set piece battle around Mersa Matruh. He and Eric Dorman-Smith, his Chief of Staff, were convinced that Eighth Army in its current state would be destroyed if it fought at Mersa Matruh. This was in spite of the fact that British forces outnumbered the Panzerarmee by a margin of two to one and that it was known that Rommel’s troops were overextended and reaching the point of exhaustion. There was now no plan nor willingness to make a stand and fight it out around Mersa Matruh. Instead, Eighth Army would withdraw to the area around El Alamein some 150 miles further east. Auchinleck later explained: “El Alamein offered by far the strongest position in the Western Desert as both its flanks rested on impassable obstacles.”

Part of his decision was based on the state of the Army’s armored formations. Both armored divisions of Eighth Army were determined not to engage with the advancing enemy and risk losing more tanks. According to Brigadier H.B. Latham, the armored units “had not recovered from the beating they had taken in June” and that “sheer bad tactical handling had knocked all the stuffing out of the tank crews.” Holding actions were to be the order of the day as the main elements of Eighth Army withdrew to the El Alamein position to make their stand there. This was a critical decision as all British planning since 1940 had been based on a last-ditch stand at Mersa Matruh as the “worst possible case.” It is surprising though, and a sad reflection on the state of the Army, that such a vital change in plan was not passed on to the New Zealanders and it almost caused the destruction of their division in three days.

Mediterranean Sea : Thanks to decrypted wireless intelligence from radio communications of Italian Navy , Royal Navy submarine HMS Thrasher intercepted , torpedoed and sank Italian merchant vessel Sant Antonio in the Gulf of Sirte off Libya; Italian torpedo boat Perseo attempted a counterattack which failed to damage HMS Thrasher which evaded counter attack.

Black Sea : Soviet destroyer Smishlionny struck a mine and sank off Crimea

Auschwitz , Poland : In German-occupied Poland, the euthanasia programme was suddenly accelerated, when Polish and Polish Jewish patients in mental institutions were deported to Auschwitz, the first group on June 23.

New York , USA : Agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, acting on information provided by defected saboteur George Dasch, located and arrested two German saboeurs in New York, New York, United States

Washington , USA : The fall of Tobruk caused morale in US to drop considerably. In Washington , USA
When President Roosevelt’s cousin and confidante Margaret “Daisy” Suckley visited him shortly after the British defeat in Tobruk , she wrote that the President was depressed over the situation. If Egypt is taken, it means Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, etc., i.e. the Japs and Germans control everything across from the Atlantic to the Pacific – that means all the oil wells, etc., of those regions."

When she asked whether victory was certain, he replied, “Not necessarily."

On a press release Harry Hopkins , the head of US Munitions Assignment Board and President Roosevelt’s close confidant promised “a second , third and even a forth front if nrcessaryto pen the German Army in a ring of steel.” then adding he was really getting tired of people and press saying the British can not fight. “They have fought against unbelievable odds for almost two years. We owe Britain a great debt which we intend to repay in full”

Nor were matters helped by the lack of a specific strategy in Allied camp and statesmen and commanders in chief. The broad aims were in place but agreement on exactly where, when, and how Allied forces would be used in the immediate future was still unresolved. Among those now using the increasingly busy air route between Washington and London were Major-General Dwight Eisenhower and his team. On his return from the UK at the beginning of June, Ike had submitted to General Marshall a draft of a ‘Directive for the Commanding General, European Theatre of Operations’. This was, Ike told his chief, one paper he should read in detail. ‘I certainly do want to read it,’ Marshall told him. ‘You may be the man who executes it. If that’s the case, when can you leave?’ Three days later Ike’s appointment as Commander of the ETO was confirmed.

When he left America on 23 June heading to London , UK , his instructions had been simply ‘to prepare for and carry on military operations in the European Theatre against the Axis Powers and their Allies’. Four days before, he had been at a meeting between Marshall and his staff and the British Generals Sir John Dill, Sir Alan Brooke and Sir Hastings Ismay, in which serious concerns about GYMNAST – the plan to invade north-west Africa later evolved to Operation TORCH – had been aired. Such an operation, it was agreed, would hinder plans to reinforce the Middle East, would cause a very serious drain on Allied shipping in all theatres, and would be of little help to the Russians. Furthermore, success would depend on political conditions, which were impossible to predict; and finally, the operation would be detrimental to BOLERO, the build-up of Allied forces in the UK. It was also agreed that the possibility of launching an attack against mainland Nazi-held Europe at some point in 1942 was, despite certain hazards, preferable to a joint invasion of Africa. With this in mind, Ike set off for London believing he was preparing for such an operation. He was even accompanied by Major-General Mark Clark, already earmarked to lead the US corps in any proposed attack.

Eisenhower and his team faced a monstrous task. Decisions made in the next few weeks would shape the future of the war, and very probably its outcome; in the short term, at any rate, it would be up to a small-town boy from Kansas to plan and prepare for the first land operations his countrymen would undertake against Germany. But he was also expected to do this hand in glove with the British. Ike may have impressed Marshall and the chiefs back in Washington, but he was still a comparatively junior general. As Brooke later pointed out, during Eisenhower’s visit to the UK in May he had hardly made a big impression. ‘If I had been told then of the future that lay in front of him I should have refused to believe it,’ he later wrote. Brooke was not alone in this view.

Moreover, Britain and America may have shared a common language but culturally and ideologically they were poles apart, even before the war. In June 1942, Ike and his team were coming to a country already nearly four years into war, a country that had faced mass bombing, nightly blackouts, rationing and a shortage of every conceivable luxury – luxuries that were still in abundance the other side of the Atlantic. Planning any military operation was hard enough, but Ike also faced the challenge of winning the hearts and minds of these strange and alien people.

London , UK : The talks in Washington were protected by a shroud of secrecy and, for this reason, the fact that Churchill had managed to pull so many strategic chestnuts from the fire was not apparent either in Britain or in the desert. The only story in London was the fall of Tobruk, which the press reported as though it were a national disgrace as well as a military disaster. The London correspondent for Time magazine, wrote, ‘The Briton-in-the-street was as mad as a blitzed Briton.’ Later, Churchill’s Director of Military Operations recalled, ‘We all felt immensely frustrated and disappointed and, indeed, rather ashamed that the Army was not doing better.’ Kennedy even avoided going to his usual club in Pall Mall, hiding away instead at lunch or dinner at ‘another unfrequented little club of which I was an honorary member’.

Burma : In the Far East, in an attempt to by-pass their vulnerable sea lines of communications, the Japanese had begun to plan a railway link between Burma and Thailand, using British, Australian and Dutch prisoners-of-war. On June 23, an advance party of three hundred British prisoners-of-war reached the base at Bampong, in Thailand, with orders to construct their own camp and also a camp for their Japanese guards. Three months later, three thousand Australian prisoners-of-war were to be sent to a camp at Thanbyuzayat, to begin construction of the Burma end of the railway, soon to be known as the ‘Railway of Death’.

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24 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-156 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Willimantic with gunfire 700 miles southeast of Bermuda at 0904 hours; 6 were killed, 32 survived.

At 0937 hours, 30 miles off Cape Fear, North Carolina, United States, German submarine U-404 torpedoed and sank Yugoslavian cargo ship Ljubica Matkovic; all 30 aboard survived. At the mouth of the Delaware Bay on the US coast, US rescue tug vessel John R. Williams struck a mine and sank at 2005 hours; 14 were killed, 4 survived; the mine was laid by U-373 on 11 June.

Murmansk , Kola Inlet , Russia : Five German Ju 88 bombers attacked Allied shipping at anchor in the Kola Inlet near Murmansk, Russia starting at 0908 hours, sinking Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Gossamer at 0921 hours (23 were killed, 12 were wounded).

Libyan-Egypt Frontier : Panzer Army Afrika under Rommel’s command crosses the frontier and head for Mersa Matruh , the recon battalion of 90th German Light Infantry Division reached before Mersa Matruh in noon.

Mersa Matruh (Mersa: anchorage) was a small coastal port 120 mi (193 km) east of the wire, halfway between Cyrenica and El Alamein. A railhead connected the town to Alexandria. The harbour was 1.5 mi (2 km) in length, and enclosed a small, deep-water anchorage. The coastal town was like a small Tobruk. It had been fortified in 1940 before the Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940 and was further strengthened during the build-up for Operation Crusader. It was the last coastal fortress in Allied possession before El Alamein. The town is located on a thin coastal plain that extends inland 10 mi (16 km) to an escarpment. Extending further south is a second narrow plain extending 12 mi (19 km) to the Sidi Hamaza escarpment. At the eastern end of this escarpment is the Minqar Qaim track (where 2nd New Zealand Division was deployed). Beyond the upper escarpment lies the high desert, extending 80 mi (129 km) south to the Qattara Depression. The western approach to the town was mined and these minefields had been extended around the southern approach to the town but the eastern approach to the fortress had not been mined. The defences are in disarray. The minefield and defensive perimeter around the town was held by 50th British Infantry Division (only with two brigades since third brigade 151st Ianfantry Brigade was destroyed in Battle of Gazala) and 10th Indian Division from 10th Corps under command of General Holmes. 50th Infantry Division lost a lot of euipment and weapons during retreat from Gazala. An airfield was just inland but it was vacated by Deserrt Air Force that retreated to Egyptian air bases further east. The coast road Via Balbia was the main avenue of retreat and ran through the town. The 5th Indian Division (now of 10th Corps) provided several mobile columns in the country between Gott’s 13th Corps made up weak and understrength 1th Armored Division mostly. This arrangement, with 5th Indian Division operating in the 13th Corps area, was untidy. (It proved to be a mistake for defenders)

The choice of Matruh as the site for the battle for Egypt was dictated partly by the political need to check the enemy while he was still some way from the Delta, and partly because in 1940 much time and effort had been spent in preparing its defences. Subsequently, as the town became a major supply base thesedefensive works had been allowed to decay, but some still remained and although it was not a naturally strong position it seemed to Ritchie and Auchinleck to be the best place in the circumstances at which to halt the German advance.

German planning for the battle was done when Rommel arrived. His general plan was to catch and defeat the Eighth Army in detail before the British had a chance to regroup behind a defensive line and rebuild their army with fresh formations. Having dealt their armoured forces a heavy blow at Gazala, he looked to destroy a major portion of their infantry formations by trapping them in the defensive fortress of Mersa Matruh. Rommel believed four Allied infantry divisions were in the fortress and the remnants of the British armour was to the south. He planned to use the Afrika Korps to push the British armour aside and use the 90th Light Division to cut off the infantry at Matruh.

Rommel could muster only forty-four tanks in Panzer Army but he was undaunted and planned to assault the eastern end of the escarpment directly south of Mersa Matruh. He planned to create a gap between the 2nd NZ Division and 1st Armoured Division and through this he would pour 15th Panzer Division and two Italian divisions, sufficient force to overwhelm the garrison. Ritchie was complacent but recognised that a night attack was a strong possibility. On 23 June he reported to GHQ that Gott was ‘fully alive to the fact that offensive action, especially after dark, against the southern flank … may have great effect’. The British , Indian and New Zealander forces in Mersa Matruh braced themselves for Rommel’s next assault, having been reorganised and redeployed. Formations had changed in shape and content and were ‘shaking down’ as quickly as they could.

At the same time RAF Desert Air Force started heavy air raids over exposed motorised colums of Panzer Army Afrika stretched in desert , with various bombing and strafing sorties. Axis columns are complately unprotected from air with Luftwaffe air bases in Cyreneica is getting left behind and out of range.

Under command of very capable RAF Vice Air Marshal Mary Coningham and Commodore Tommy Elmhirst’s leapfrogging of Desert Air Force squadrons continued. Under Tommy’s efficient and organized system, it was drummed into every man that nothing – absolutely nothing – could be left behind that could be of material advantage to the enemy. Any aircraft that was unfit for service but was flyable was shoved into the air and taken to the next landing ground. One aircraft, for example, was flown without its instrument panel. Others were towed by salvage trucks, while those that could not be moved were doused in petrol and torched.

The ground crews also toiled to save what fuel and ammunition they could. One wing managed to salvage 260,000 gallons of fuel and 300 bombs, the last trucks hurrying into the desert with shells already falling around them. The ground crews had been stripped of much of their equipment to enable them to move at a moment’s notice, but despite this handicap they maintained an extraordinary level of serviceability. By working through the night, they ensured the DAF was able to keep around 80 per cent of its strength for much of the time. On a visit to the front-line squadrons, Air Marshal Tedder watched in amazement as around a hundred men bodily lifted a Spitfire in order to get an articulator underneath it. ‘There was no crane available there,’ reported Tedder to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), ‘but they were determined not to lose this Spitfire and that is the spirit one has seen throughout.’ He was also impressed at the doggedness of the pilots. One squadron leader told him ‘the intensity of operations was far greater than anything he had seen during the Battle of Britain’.

On 23 June, they then moved again, this time to an airfield at Qasaba. Now almost entirely out of touch with the army, the RAF had to rely on their own reconnaissance rather than any reports from the ground for their targets, and so 112 Squadron were carrying out both reconnaissance and escort duty for the day bombers, as well as bombing and strafing themselves. The mass of the Panzer Army streaming across the desert in a cloud of dust provided a very obvious target from the relentlessly clear blue skies above, and so, on 25 June, Mary Coningham began round-the-clock bombing with all aircraft available in Desert Air Force. Every hour of the day, the Panzer Army was pounded by bombers, and strafed by marauding fighters. At night, led by Albacore biplanes armed with flares, Wellington bombers were sent out to attack not just the Axis columns, but also their ports and lines of supply as well. During the day, escorted by bomb-carrying fighter aircraft, twin-engined Boston medium bombers continued the work.

That same day, 112 Squadron made three trips escorting the Bostons and eight sorties of their own bombing missions. The following day they broke the record for the number of sorties flown by a fighter squadron – sixty-nine – the first at 6.25 a.m., the last some time after 7 o’clock that evening. This meant each pilot flew an average of between five and six missions, most of just over an hour each. At the height of the Battle of Britain, few pilots flew more than half this number during a single day.

Flying requires incredible levels of concentration. This is tiring in itself; but flinging an aircraft around the sky, pulling negative gravity and trying to avoid flak, small-arms fire and at the same time keeping an eye out for enemy aircraft – superior enemy aircraft – causes an incredible mental and physical strain. Six or seven hours’ combat flying in one day demonstrates an astonishing commitment and level of determination on the part of Coningham’s pilots. To make matters worse, they were rarely given much chance to sleep. As Billy Drake points out, ‘there was a great deal of noise when we were on the ground, both by day and night’. Much of the time they could hear firing uncomfortably close and often they had no idea whether this was coming from their own tanks or the enemy’s – ‘which could be quite traumatic at times’.

This gargantuan human effort was paying off, however. The Luftwaffe, with no similar system in place, was lagging behind the Axis forces on the ground and , was not seen in any great numbers during these crucial days. But the Germans were also exhausted; huge efforts at Bir Hacheim and then again during the capture of Tobruk, when they flew a staggering 580 bomber sorties in one day , had created an overwhelming strain on crews and greatly affected serviceability levels. Even before this achievement, their system of maintenance was nothing like as efficient as that established by Tommy Elmhirst for Desert Air Force. The Luftwaffe could rarely fly more than 50 per cent of its aircraft on any given day.

RAF Middle East and Mediterranean Commander Air Marshall Arthue Tedder and Vice Air Marshal Coningham had quickly learnt that the only way to give continuous support to the army, either in advance or retreat, was to have a series of landing grounds in depth, and during the Gazala battles Coningham had arranged for several Egyptian airfields to be made ready to receive his squadrons at very short notice. This precaution was to prove its worth again and again as the army retreated and the DAF assumed more and more of the burden of defending Egypt. The rapid build up of the RAF now became an immediate priority and aircraft were called in from all over the theatre, including Malta; the Delta was denuded of fighters; and other squadrons, including heavy bombers, were sent out from the UK or diverted from India and Australia. The American Liberator squadron was now permanently stationed in Egypt and plans were made to move in 35 more Liberators, 57 Mitchells, 80 Kittyhawks, and 27 Hudsons by early July.

Mediterranean Sea : By using signal intelligence by decyphering Italian Navy wireless codes , Royal Navy submarine HMS Turbulent intercepted , torpedoed and sank Italian cargo ship Regulus in Gulf of Sirte off Libya

London , UK : Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in London to assume command of ETOUSA

UK : Luftwaffe bombers conducted a night raid on Birmingham, England.

Papua New Guinea : Australian 39th Battalion and the British colonial Papua Infantry Battalion were deployed to defend the Kokoda Track, a rough jungle path that linked northeastern coast of the island of New Guinea with Port Moresby over Owen Stanley range. On the same day, other Australian units departed from Port Moresby aboard Dutch transport ship Karsik and Bontekoe to construct new airfields on the coast of Milne Bay to the east.

China : Joseph Stilwell, with Song Meiling in his support, convinced Chiang Kaishek to agree to sending Chinese troops to India for training

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25 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-404 attacked an Allied convoy 75 miles off Cape Lookout, North Carolina, United States at 0116 hours, torpedoed and sinking Panamanian cargo ship SS Nordal (all 32 aboard survived) and damaging US cargo ship Manuela (2 were killed, 40 survived) which foundered and sank next day.

Caribbean Sea : Before dawn, German submarine U-153 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Anglo-Canadian 720 miles northeast of Saint Kitts; 1 was killed, 49 survived; the crew of U-153 gave survivors drinking water and cigarettes before leaving the scene of the attack.

Egypt : General Claude Auchinleck relieved General Ritchie and assumed personal command of the British Eighth Army. Ritchie had struggled manfully to please Auchinleck but he never dominated either his subordinates or the battlefield. He was an honourable man, picked to do the wrong job, at the wrong time and probably for the wrong reasons. He had been unfailingly loyal to Auchinleck, who had repaid him in a different coin. After the war Auchinleck ruthlessly savaged Ritchie’s reputation in order to salvage his own.

Meanwhile, Vice Air Marshal Arthur Coningham commander of Desert Air Force launched around-the-clock bombing and strafing raids of Erwin Rommel’s advancing army in North Africa. Besides harassing Rommel’s motor transport on open desert, the Desert Air Force had effected the loss of General Ettore Baldassare, commander of the Italian 20th Motorised Corps, who was mortally wounded by bomb fragments in a Desert Air Force air attack on 25 June while moving between his lead columns. Baldassare had been much valued by Rommel, who noted his bravery and efficiency.

Afrikakorps divisions reached the outskirts of Mersa Matruh on the evening of 25 June.

General Auchinlek believes a stand at Matruh will be a repeat of Gazala, and cost the British their only remaining force, 2nd New Zealand Division. As Auchinlek broods over the maps, he decides that it’s more important to keep 8th Army in being than hold ground. The army’s communications and organization is a shambles. Auchinlek will fight, then withdraw from Mersa Matruh. He spews out a stream of orders. No more “box” tactics. (though nobody in chain of command obeyed Auchinleck on this regard since the defences in Alamein line were made in “box” deployment again. Auchinleck began to experience a serious insubordination and questioning of his authority under his army command rank) Concentrated artillery fire will be used. Infantrymen will be motorized, combat forces streamlined.

Auchinleck’s change in plan stemmed from the belief that he was too weak in guns and armour to be certain of holding either Matruh or Sidi Hamza or of preventing a southern sweep by Rommel from enveloping the whole of the 8th Army. Either contingency could lead to defeat in detail which was a risk far too great to be accepted. This being so he issued new orders on the 26th in which he stated that the enemy were to be fought between Matruh and El Alamein; that all units were to be kept fully mobile in order to be able to strike continually at Rommel from all sides; and that the armour was not to be committed except in very favourable circumstances. Above all, the army was to be kept intact and isolated localities were not to be defended. At the same time all the infantry divisions were to reorganize themselves into Brigade Battle Groups based on their artillery units.

Ritchie had begun to form mobile columns of this sort during the later stages of the retreat from Gazala and Auchinleck endorsed the idea when he changed the army’s role from one of static defence to fluid defence. In the event Rommel attacked before the changes could be put fully into effect but it is doubtful whether they could have had much prospect of success at this stage as the tactics involved were entirely new and unpractised, and were just one more problem for the army to contend with. For years past British doctrine had asserted that running fights in retreat were to be avoided and now the 8th Army, retreating before an aggressive enemy after a series of heavy defeats, and having just changed its commander, was told to reorganize, change its tactics, and fight a battle very different from that for which it had been hurriedly trying to prepare. It is not to be wondered at that a tiny element of despondency began to creep into the dogged and determined minds of the soldiers.

Studying the map with his aides, Auchinlek selects a point where 8th Army will make a stand, a whistlestop 60 miles from Alexandria where the Qattara Depression in the south and the Mediterranean in the north will deny Rommel his advantage of mobility. The railway station is named El Alamein.

Palestine : In Palestine, (the only British holding whose stamps are issued in English, Arabic, and Hebrew) Jewish residents work on schemes to defend Haifa against the Nazis. Doris May, an Anglo- Catholic supporter of the Zionists, writes, “It may yet fall to our handful of half-trained, half-equipped people, to put up the only effective resistance to the advance – to crack the jaws that seek to devour them. I had hoped that the Land of Israel might be spared, but it does not look very like it.”

Leningrad Front , Russia : Soviet 2nd Shock Army, trapped on the Volkhov River near Leningrad, Russia since 30 May 1942, was defeated; General Vlasov ordered the 180,000 survivors to break up into small groups to attempt to escape back to Soviet lines to the east; only 120,000 men would succeed. General Vlassov would be among captured and later switches side to create an anti communist Free Russian Army to fight in German ranks against his own countrymen.

Sevastapol , Crimea : German troops drive a wedge into Sevastopol’s defenses. The Soviets are running out of men, space, and time. Surviving fighters are sent to the Caucasus, conceding the skies to the Luftwaffe. Soon the Soviet AA guns are out of ammunition, and the defenders face Stukas with rifles and machine guns. Artillery shells are running out, too.

Bremen , Germany : Sir Arthur Harris of the RAF Bomber Command launched the third Thousand Bomber Raid, this time sending 1,067 aircraft (including some aircraft from Coastal Command and Army Cooperation Command) to attack Bremen, Germany; only 696 reported successfully reaching the city due to dense clıoud cover though Gee navigation system helped a lot of bombers to find the target and start guiding initial fires on the city. The RAF Bomber Command lost 48 aircraft to AA gunfire or Lufywaffe nightfighters, half of which had inexperienced crews recruited from training squadrons flying worn out aircraft; the RAF Coastal Command lost 5 aircraft. (heaviest casaulty rate of RAF Bomber Command so far) 572 houses were destroyed, 6,108 were damaged. 85 were killed, while 497 were wounded and 2,378 were made homeless. 27 acres of business district in Bremen was wiped out. An assembly shop at the Focke-Wulf factory was destroyed, while the Bremer Vulkan shipyard and nearby docks and warehouses were also damaged.

Paris , France : The same day, the Gestapo orders the arrest of 22,000 Jews in the Paris region, and deports them “to the East.”

London , UK : In the Palace of Westminster in London, England, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill’s critics, led by Sir John Wardlaw-Milne, embarked on a vote on no-confidence in the Prime Minister due to loss of Tobruk.

Washington , USA : At the conclusion of the Second Washington Conference, Roosevelt and Churchill decided to combine the atomic bomb research efforts of US and UK, among other topics of discussion. As Tobruk in North Africa fell under Axis control, Churchill headed back to Britain, pondering a shift in command in North Africa to answer Vote oıf No Confidence in Commons in order for him to maintain his political power in London.

Washington , US : Admiral Ernest King , commander of US Navy ordered the preparation for an offensive in the lower Solomon Islands; Santa Cruz, Tulagi, and other nearby islands were to be assaulted by US Marines.

Tulagi , Solomon islands South West Pacific : To that end, US PBY Catalina aircraft bombed Tulagi. US Army also began to form occupation garrisons for the occupation of these islands. The planned launch date for the offensive was set for 1 Aug 1942.

Tokyo Bay , Pacific Ocean : American submarine USS Nautilus torpedoed and sank Japanese destroyer Yamakaze with 2 torpedoes 60 miles south of Tokyo Bay, Japan; all 226 aboard were killed.

Midway island , Pacific Ocean : American carrier Saratoga delivered 25 P-40 Warhawk fighters and 18 SBD Dauntless dive bombers to Midway Atoll.

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26 June 1942

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-203 intercepted and sank British cargo ship Putney Hill with a torpedo and her deck gun 450 miles northeast of Puerto Rico at 0544 hours; 3 were killed, 35 survived. At 0913 hours, U-107 damaged Dutch cargo ship Jagersfontein with a torpedo 500 miles west of Bermuda; Jagersfontein would sink at 1215 hours; all 220 aboard survived.

At 2317 hours, U-203 struck again, sinking Brazillian cargo ship Pedrinhas with a torpedo and her deck gun 300 miles northeast of Puerto Rico; all 48 aboard survived.

Bay of Biscay : Vichy French cargo ship Quand Meme struck a mine and sank in the Bay of Biscay; the mine was deployed by Free French submarine Rubis on 5 Jun 1942.

Mersa Matruh , Egypt : On the morning of 26 June an Axis supply column en route to Mersa Matruh was destroyed by a series of Desert Air Force air raids , causing a fuel shortage and delaying Axis attack to Mersa Matruh till the afternoon. Rommel’s information on Allied dispositions at Matruh was limited, partly due to a lack of reconnaissance flights and partly due to the loss of access to US military attache wireless reports (US State Departmant was warned by British that their Black Code was compromised ) by his interception unit, the 621st Signals Battalion, which the British had become aware of and made a point of over-running and destroying at the Battle of Gazala.

Italian troops of Brescia Infantry Division and Trento Motorised Division reached Mersa Matruh, Egypt in the afternoon, engaging in fighting against the Indian 10th Infantry Division. To the south, German Afrikakorps tanks and infantry moved toward Minqar Qaim held by 2nd New Zealand Division. The 21st Panzer Division moved across the short plain between the two escarpments above Matruh, with 90th Light Division on its left flank, while 15th Panzer Division moved across the plain above the second escarpment with the Italian 20th Motorized Corps following some ways behind. The 90th Light and 21st Panzer divisions made a path through the thin minefield and brushed aside weak armored brigae detachments of British 1st Armored Division.

On the high desert plain the 15th Panzer Division ran into the 22nd Armoured Brigade and its drive forward was checked hough 22nd Armored Brigade lost several tanks knocked out by German panzers and anti tank guns in exchange. By the evening despite heavy British artillery fire German 90th Light Division and 21st Panzer Division negotiated a way through Auchinleck’s minefields in the south and advancing to sever coastal road to Mersa Matruh from east , isolating the fortress

Malta : A series of Axis air raids launched on Malta but RAF Spitfire interceptors and British anti aircraft batteries shot down six Italian bombers , four German JU-87 bombers and a German ME-109 fighter and dispersed most of the remaining incoming Axis aircraft.

Sevastapol , Crimea : German 11th Army troops reached the northern shore of Severnaya Bay near Sevastopol, Russia. To the east of the city, positions held by troops of Soviet 386th Rifle Division were bombarded by German aircraft. Accurate and intense Luftwaffe air bombing devastated Soviet defences on the Sapun Ridge. It was the last Soviet defensive line between the Axis and Sevastopol. As defeat appeared to be imminent, Soviet submarines D-6 and A-1 were scuttled in the harbor of Sevastopol to prevent capture.

Luftwaffe bombers began to bomb innner city and fortress of Sevastapol in constant air raids

Black Sea : German Ju 87 dive bombers hit and sank Soviet destroyer Bezuprechny (320 were killed) and Soviet submarine S-32 (all 45 aboard were killed) 30 miles southeast of Sevastopol, Russia.

Italian midget submarine CB-4 recorded attacking and sinking Soviet submarine ShCh-207 in the Black Sea off Yalta, Ukraine; Soviet records revealed that the only submarine lost in the region that day was ShCh-203.

Ukraine : German Sixth Army troops crossed the Oskel River to take Kupyansk in Ukraine, which was to be used as a jump-off point for their summer offensive.

Moscow , Soviet Union : Stalin, when told of the captured Reichsel papers about German plans to attack Caucaus , dismissed them out of hand as forgeries. Reverting to his obsessive obstinacy of the previous year, he refused to believe anything which contradicted his own view that Hitler would again strike at Moscow. South-Western Front headquarters sent Reichel’s papers to the Kremlin by aircraft, but Stalin, during his meeting on 26 June with General Golikov, the commander of the threatened Bryansk Front, threw the papers aside angrily when he saw that Golikov who believed them to be authentic. With the papers taken off Major Reichel lying before him, Stalin swept them aside and told Golikov in no uncertain terms that he did not believe a word of Operation ‘Blau’: more than that, Stalin proceeded to lash out at the whole incompetence of the intelligence staff who could come up with nothing better than this. As for Soviet intentions, it was absolutely vital, Stalin continued, that ‘the enemy is given no chance to break our forces piece by piece, and so we ourselves have to strike blows at the enemy’. For this reason Golikov would prepare an operation to seize Orel in co-operation with the Western Front: Bryansk Front would launch its main attack with 48th Army supported by the 3rd and 13th Armies, while 61st Army was to outflank Orel from the north and west, all preparations to be complete by 5 July. The next day, back at his own Front HQ , Golikov reported this to his staff and on the morning of 27 June work began on planning the Orel operations which Stalin had ordered. The plan was basically the same as the one worked out during the spring, but this time the General Staff passed on certain points it wanted included. At 03.00 hours, 28 June the draft plan of the Orel offensive operation was ready.

Golikov was sent straight back to his headquarters to prepare a quick pre-emptive attack to recapture Orel. He and his staff worked on a draft plan all the next day and through most of the night, but their labours were wasted. The German offensive began a few hours later.

Norwich , UK : German bombers attacked Norwich, England, United Kingdom

London , UK : On June 26, the British Broadcasting Corporation broadcast from London an account of the fate of the Jews of Poland, stating that 700,000 had already been murdered. This information had been smuggled out of Warsaw by the Polish underground, which had received it from the Polish Jewish historian Emanuel Ringelblum and his friends. ‘Our toils and tribulations, our devotion and constant terror, have not been in vain,’ Ringelblum wrote that night. ‘We have struck the enemy a hard blow’. Even if the BBC’s revelations did not lead Hitler to halt the slaughter, Ringelblum was content: ‘We have revealed his Satanic plan to annihilate Polish Jewry, a plan he wished to complete in silence’, he wrote. ‘We have run a line through his calculations and have exposed his cards. And if England keeps its word and turns to the formidable mass attacks it has threatened—then perhaps we will be saved’.

Prime Minister Churchill and his entourage returned to London to answer and defend his goverment against Vote of No Confidence in House of Commons.

Florida and Long Island , USA : Eight German saboteurs landed by submarine on US territory were arrested by FBI

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Good job you’re doing with the weekly summaries. :slight_smile:

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Thanks , nice to know someone reads them :slight_smile:

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27 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-404 torpedoed and sank Norwegian cargo ship Moldanger 300 miles southeast of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; 14 were killed, 30 survived.

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : 650 miles east of the Virgin Islands, German submarine U-153 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Potlatch; 8 were killed, 47 survived; Potlatch was carrying a cargo of tanks, trucks, and supplies for the British forces fighting in Egypt. 250 miles east of Trinidad, German submarine U-128 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Polybius; 10 were killed, 34 survived.

German submarine U-129 sank Mexican tanker Tuxpam with torpedoes (1 of 2 hit) and her deck gun 50 miles north of Veracruz, Mexico; 8 were killed, 31 survived. 20 miles west of Barbados, German submarine U-126 torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker Leiv Eiriksson at 1055 hours; 4 were killed, 40 survived (2 of the survivors would die of their wounds at a hospital at Barbados). At 1525 hours, U-129 struck again, sinking Mexican tanker Las Choapas with a torpedo also about 50 miles north of Veracruz, Mexico; 4 were killed, 28 survived.

Iceland : Allied convoy PQ-17 under Commodore J. C. K. Dowding sailed from Hvalfjord, north of Reykjavik, Iceland, where it had assembled. One ship grounded on leaving harbour and another was damaged by ice in the Denmark Strait, so the convoy that set course for Arkhangelsk, Russia comprised 33 ships plus a tanker, escorted by six destroyers, two anti-aircraft ships, four corvettes, three minesweepers, four trawlers and two submarines; which it was hoped would discourage enemy attacks.

On the same date, convoy QP-13 set sail from Arkhangelsk, Russia; it was consisted of 35 merchant ships and was escorted by 3 destroyers, 1 minesweeper, 4 corvettes, 1 anti-aircraft vessel, and 2 trawlers.

Mersa Matruh , Libya : During their attacks in the morning and afternoon German 90th Light Division after clearing lanes on thinly laid British minefields , destroyed the 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (9th DLI), 17 mi (27 km) south of Matruh , cut off the Allied forces at Mersa Matruh, Egypt as its troops reached Ras Hawala at 1900 hours and sever the coastal route to east. British Eighth Army new commander General Claude Auchinleck ordered his forces to fall back to Fuka 48 kilometers to the east; however due to his bad coordination of two coops under his command and lack of cooperation between 13th Corps commander General Gott and 10th Corps commander General Holmes , the withdrawal was conducted with much confusion. 10th Corps under General Hokmes expected support from General Gott’s mainly armored brigade supported 13th Corps but next morning Gott pulled his corps back to Alamein line withıout bothering to anyone , and 10th Corps isolated by enemy rmained all alone under German and Italian siege and under heavy artillery fire (ironicaly some of Axis artillery are captured 15 pounder and 105 mm guns British left at Gazala which Axis recovered and put into good use with captured British ammunition stocks in Tobruk)

German 21st Panzer Division surrounded New Zealand 2nd Infantry Division at Minqar Qaim, Egypt before sundown, but the New Zealand troops would be able to break out of the envelopment after dark with a daring bayonet charge and breakthrough with all motorised vehicles thay had from lines of 21st Panzer Division. New Zealand Divisiıon commander General Bernard Freyberg despite suffering a head wound , leads his men in person from frontline. 4th New Zealand Brigade spearheaded by 28th NZ Maori Battalion “with terrifying Maori war cries” according to German war historian Paul Carell , crush German positions and open up for rest of 2nd New Zealand Division to pass through and retreat with all motorised vehicles and 12.000 men back to Alamein line. The acting commander of the division Brigadier Inglis described his withdrawal from Minqar Qaim as “crash tactics: that is a charge straight through.” He assured his government that it had been “most effective.” Effective it may have been, but it was also disorganized and chaotic.

Still 2nd New Zeland Division suffered only 800 casaulties total (killed , wounded and captured) in Mersa Matruh and the rest of division survived and retreated successfully. Rommel writes his displeasure again : “That New Zealand Division , probbably best troops of British Empire and our old friends from frontier and Tobruk battles escaped , if General Freyberg’s division had been cooped up in our prisoner of war cages instead of fighting in front of us I would breathe much better”

Sevastapol , Crimea : German 18th Infantry, 1st, and 4th Mountain Divisions, supported by 100 guns, gradually advanced up the Chernaya River towards the mouth of the river and Severnaya Bay. With support from LIV Corps on its left, the Axis captured all the Soviet defensive lines east of the Chernaya River

Germany : 144 British bombers (55 Wellington, 39 Halifax, 26 Stirling, 24 Lancaster) from RAF Bomber Command attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging the Atlas Werke and the Korff refinery, killing 7, and wounding 80; nine RAF bombers were lost on this mission.

USA : Acting on information given by defected saboteur George Dasch, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents captured two German saboteurs in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The FBI would soon announce to the public the capture of eight German saboteurs

Washington , USA : Under relentless pressure from Churchill and his advisers, as well as from Stimson, Marshall, and others in Washington, President Roosevelt again chastised Admiral King for the delays in initiating convoys. Reviewing the heavy losses of unescorted shipping in North American waters for the period May 17 to June 27, Roosevelt wrote King privately:

“One hundred and eighteen ships sailing independently were lost as against twenty under escort. I realize the problem of making up escorts for convoys but about three months have elapsed since we undertook it. I also realize that strict observance of convoy rules will slow up voyages of many ships but, frankly, I think it has taken an unconscionable time to get things going, and further, I do not think that we are utilizing a large number of escort vessels which could be used, especially in the Summer time. We must speed things up and we must use the available tools even though they are not just what we would like to have.”

It drew from Admiral King a restrained reply :

“I am in entire accord with your view as to the advantages of escorted convoys,” King wrote Roosevelt. “I have established convoy systems, beginning with the most dangerous areas, as acquisition of escort vessels permitted. I have used vessels of every type and size that can keep up with the ships they guard. I have accepted the smallest escorts that give promise of a reasonable degree of protection.” After listing the various convoy systems in place, King wrote that “these convoys are a step in the right direction” but that the Allies “are still at a disadvantage”:
• Escorts are unduly weak, consisting of too large a proportion of small craft with little fighting power.
• Only medium-speed (nominally 10-knot) convoys are at present possible. Fifteen-knot and faster ships normally proceed independently. Very slow ships are, where possible, moved from port to port in daylight with a token escort of small craft.
• There are no regular convoys at present to Gulf of Mexico ports, but it is expected that 83-foot Coast Guard cutters will become available in the near future for this service.
• Small craft now used in the Caribbean frequently cannot keep up with convoys against the trade winds.
• A dangerous concentration of unprotected shipping exists in the open sea beyond Trinidad. • The smaller craft now extensively used in escort service will not stand winter weather in the North Atlantic.
King concluded: My goal—and I believe yours also—is to get every ship under escort. For this purpose we (the United States and Great Britain) need a very large number—roughly 1,000—sea-going escort vessels of DE [destroyer escort] or corvette type. I am doing my best to get them quickly.

Lae-Salamanua , Papua New Guinea : Two Australian Catalina flying-boats, on a night mission over the Lae-Salamaua area of Australian New Guinea lasting four hours, dropped eight 500-pound bombs, twenty 20-pound fragmentation bombs and four dozen empty beer bottles. The beer bottles falling through the air made a screeching sound which helped to terrorise the enemy and spoil his sleep.

Tokyo Bay , Japan : American submarine USS Nautilus torpedoed and sank Japanese auxiliary minesweeper Musashi Maru 60 miles south of Tokyo Bay, Japan.

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Yeah, kudos to the Maoris​:+1::+1::+1::+1::sunglasses:

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Interesting detail, waking up the enemy with a Grumpy Catalina :pouting_cat: to let him find lots of glass an in the best case an empty beer :beer: bottle. Go Aussies, kinda stereotypical I wonder if others copied this. Must have been a morale booster for the flying boat crew.:pray:

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