6 - 12 June 1942

6 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-68 torpedoed and sank Panamanian tanker C. O. Stillman 60 miles southwest of Puerto Rico at 0307 hours; 3 were killed, 55 survived.

Near the Equator in the Central Atlantic, German armed merchant cruiser Stier intrcepted and sank Panamanian tanker Stanvac Calcutta with gunfire (12 were killed, 36 survived and were captured); Stier suffered two hits when Stanvac Calcutta returned fire with her 4-inch gun.

US Liberty type cargo ship George Clyton was torpedoed and severely damaged by German fast motor torpedoboat Essau launched by German merchant raider cruiser Michel in South Atlantic.

Bay of Biscay , France : A RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Sunderland flying boat from Coastal Command detected German submarine U-74 on the surface , leaving her base at La Pallice with airborne radar and attacked with machine gunfire and bombs , severely damaging German submarine to force her returning back to her base at La Pallice.

Gazala , Libya : Gazala , Libya : German troops from 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions routed three Indian infantry battalions and four artillery regiments that failed to flee as the Operation Aberdeen offensive was called off on the previous day in Cauldron , Gazala Libya. With victory secured at this battle, Erwin Rommel moved the entire German 90th Light Division to reinforce the siege on Free French-held fort of Bir Hakeim. By 6 June, the Axis divisions which Rommel had despatched to Bir Hacheim four days earlier had surrounded Bir Hakeim fortress.

In Gazala , Libya, Desert Air Force P-40 Kittybombers repeatedly attacked Axis armor formations near the Knightsbridge box during the Battle of Gazala.

Bir-Hackeim , Gazala , Libya : From 5 to 6 June, the Desert Air Force flew fewer sorties at Bir Hakeim, concentrating on the Knightsbridge Box and around 11:00 a.m. on 6 June, German 90th Light Division attacked with the support of pioneers to try to clear a passage through the French minefields. The pioneers got within 800 m (900 yd) of the fort, having breached the outer minefield and during the night they managed to clear several passages into the inner perimeter. German infantry gained a foothold but the French troops in foxholes, dug outs and blockhouses, maintained a great volume of small-arms fire, which forced the Germans under cover. Operation Aberdeen, an attempt to destroy Axis forces in the Cauldron, which had begun on the night of 4/5 June, was a disastrous failure. Eighth Army commander General Ritchie considered withdrawing the French from the fort to release the 7th Motor Brigade but decided to keep possession of it. Ritchie was well aware of the importance of Bir Hacheim; that – in Auchinleck’s words – its loss would require him to ‘form a new and extended front facing southwards behind which we might be hemmed in and deprived of our power of manoeuvre. The threat to our rear would be increased.’ Meanwhile Luftwaffe Ju-87 Stuka dive bombers continued to hit Bir-Hakeim with successive air attacks. On ground though neither German 90th Light nor Italian Arierte armored division could advance beyond minefields yet.

“Our ground attacks repeatedly bogged down in the excellent French fortifications. During the first ten days of out attack against the French the British had remained amazingly calm. The “Ariete” Division alone was attacked by them on 2 June but it defended itself stubbornly. After a counter-attack by the 21st Panzer Division the situation there again became quiet.”

— General major Alfred Toppe

Libya , North Africa : In North Africa the RAF Desert Air Force deployed its “secret” Hurricane IID Tank Buster Squadron which had been training to deliver low-level attacks on enemy tank formations using Hurricane fighters fitted with dual 40mm cannon. Within ten days the squadron would make 37 sorties, damaging 31 enemy tanks (although very few were completely destroyed).

Egypt , North Africa : General Lewis Brereton, commander of the US 10th Air Force in the China-Burma-India theater, was transferred to Egypt.

Malta : Luftwaffe bombers made a heavy air raid on Malta though RAF and British anti aircraft defences shot down 13 German bombers.

Sevastapol , Russia : German troops continued the bombardment of Sevastopol, Russia from ground with large caliber weapons and heavy successive Luftwaffe air raids. The artillery bombardment targeted bunkers with 105 mm fire, which usually received 10–25 rounds. German Flak 36 37 mm guns also did an effective job of eliminating machinegun nests. The German forces were also quick to bring up 88 mm artillery guns to fire directly into bunker apertures. Between 2 and 6 June, the German 11th Army expended nine percent of its munitions (42,595 rounds, amounting to 2,449 tons of munitions) on pre-advance shelling. The railway guns also fired a few rounds at the main fortifications and rail lines, but most missed by some distance. The closest shell landed 80 meters away from its target. Soviet ammunition dumps were also targeted by these weapons, with no effect. The main fortifications, Soviet forts Stalin, Molotov, and Maxim Gorky (which lay in the path of LIV Corps) remained active. It was not until the afternoon of 6 June when a single 60 cm calibre mortar shell from the Karl-Gerät self-propelled mortar no. III, nicknamed Thor, knocked out Maxim Gorky’s second turret, damaging the weapon. This was the only success of the German super-heavy guns, which did not have an impact commensurate with their expense. The Luftwaffe had a greater impact, using its Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers to knock out the communications systems of the fort.

Bryansk , Russia : In German occupied Russian territory , on June 5, a further five thousand German troops launched Operation Birdsong, against 2,500 partisans between Roslavl and Bryansk. In a four week sweep, 1,193 partisans were killed, for a loss of 58 German dead. But a German military report expressed dissatisfaction at the results. ‘The partisans’, one senior officer complained, ‘continued their old tactic of evading, withdrawing into the forests, or moving in larger groups into the areas south and south-west of the Roslavl—Bryansk highway and into the Kletnya area.’ Although no further partisan attacks were reported in the ‘pacified’ area, the officer wrote, nevertheless ‘mines continued to be planted’ and several German vehicles had been damaged. Within two months, Soviet partisans had returned to the ‘Birdsong’ area in force.

Emden , Germany : 233 British bombers (124 Wellington, 40 Stirling, 27 Halifax, 20 Lancaster, 15 Hampden, 7 Manchester) from RAF Bomber attacked Emden, Germany during night, destroying 300 houses, killing 17 civilians, and wounding 49; nine bombers were lost on this mission

London , UK : Twenty people killed and 59 wounded when an unexploded German bomb detonated in Elephant and Castle.

Koblenz , Germany : SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann ordered the deportation of 450 Jews from the Koblenz region; the inmates of a mental home in a nearby village were, he said, to be included. To maintain secrecy, and deception, Eichmann’s office insisted that the words ‘deportation to the East’ should not be used in describing these moves, but instead ‘people who emigrated elsewhere’.

Indian Ocean : Japanese submarine I-16 sank Yugoslavian freighter Susak with her deck gun just off the coast of Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique.

Pacific Ocean : During morning recon aircraft from Midway island and Task Force 16 discovered two Japanese heavy destroyers (one with a crushed bow) and two escorting destroyers straggling well behind retreating Japanese fleet , all in air attack range of US carriers of Task Force 16 (USS Enterprise and USS Hornet) north east of Midway island. These were Japanese heavy cruisers Mikuma and Mogami , that crashed each other accidently due to submarine attack approach of USS Tambor. During noon Admiral Spruance commanding Task Force 16 launched three air attack waves from both of his carriers to finish them off. During afternoon SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Enterprise and USS Hornet attacked, damaging destroyer Arashio (37 were killed), destroyer Asashio (22 were killed) with near misss, and hit Japanese heavy cruiser Mogami with four bombs (81 killed) , causing heavy damage although she survived and eventually reached Japanese naval base at Truk and remained out of survice due repair work for more than one year.
Other SBD Dauntless dive bombers hit Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma with five 250 kg bombs , causing fatal damage to cruiser Mikuma, which would sink later in the day (650 killed, 240 survived). As US Navy Task Force 16 sailed eastward to refuel due to reluctance of Admiral Spruance to engage enemy surface forces beyond air cover of Midway island (in hindsight a wise cautious attitude) , thus breaking contact with the Japanese fleet, the Battle of Midway drew to a close.

Note : Historian Samuel E. Morison noted in 1949 that Spruance was subjected to much criticism for not pursuing the retreating Japanese, thus allowing their surface fleet to escape. Clay Blair argued in 1975 that had Spruance pressed on, he would have been unable to launch his aircraft after nightfall, and his cruisers would have been overwhelmed by Yamamoto’s powerful surface units, including Yamato. Furthermore, the American air groups had suffered considerable losses, including most of their torpedo bombers. This made it unlikely that they would be effective in an airstrike against the Japanese battleships, even if they had managed to catch them during the daytime. Also, by this time Spruance’s destroyers were critically low on fuel

Last shots of Battle of Midway were fired by Japanese though. Meanwhile, salvage efforts on crippled American aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (which was hit by three bombs and two air launched torpedoes on 4th June) were encouraging, and she was taken in tow by USS Vireo and one of her escort desroyers USS Hammann evacuated remaining crew and keeping contact with hull of Yorktown which is listing. In the late afternoon of 6 June, the Japanese submarine I-168, which had intercepted abandoned carrier in tow and her escorts , managed to slip through the cordon of destroyers (possibly because of the large amount of debris in the water), fired a salvo of torpedoes, two of which struck already heavily USS Yorktown. There were few casualties aboard since most of the crew had already been evacuated, but a third torpedo from this salvo struck the destroyer USS Hammann, which had been providing auxiliary power to USS Yorktown. USS Hammann broke in two and sank with the loss of 80 lives, mostly because her own depth charges exploded. With further salvage efforts deemed hopeless, the remaining repair crews were evacuated from USS Yorktown. Throughout the night of 6 June and into the morning of 7 June, USS Yorktown remained afloat; but by 05:30 on 7 June, observers noted that her list was rapidly increasing to port. Shortly afterward, the ship turned onto her port side, and lay that way, revealing the torpedo hole in her starboard bilge—the result of the submarine attack. Captain Buckmaster’s American flag was still flying. All ships half-masted their colors in salute; all hands who were topside stood with heads uncovered and came to attention, with tears in their eyes. Two patrolling PBYs appeared overhead and dipped their wings in a final salute. At 07:01, the ship rolled upside-down, and slowly sank, stern first, with her battle flags flying.

With sinking of USS Yorktown , Battle of Midway drew to a close. It was an astonishing US naval victory that not only checked or at least slowed down Japanese advance in Pacific and South East Asia , sinking of four Japanese fleet carriers from First Carier Strike Force and loss of entire Japanese first line of pilots and aircrews (322 Japanese aircraft destroyed) meant that Japanese naval aviation was dealt a blow which they could never recover from. In addition Japanese Imperial Navy lost one heavy cruiser and and another Japanese cruiser heavily damaged. The Americans rejoiced at their victory, which had been made all the more pleasurable by the fact that three of the Japanese aircraft carriers sunk had been among the five which had taken part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Battle of Midway has often been called “the turning point of the Pacific”. It was the Allies’ first major naval victory against the Japanese. Had Japan won the battle as thoroughly as the U.S. did, it might have been able to conquer Midway Island. Saratoga would have been the only American carrier in the Pacific, with no new ones being completed before the end of 1942. While the U.S. would probably not have sought peace with Japan as Yamamoto hoped, his country might have revived Operation FS to invade and occupy Fiji and Samoa; attacked Australia, Alaska, and Ceylon; or even attempted to conquer Hawaii.

Although the Japanese continued to try to secure more territory, and the U.S. did not move from a state of naval parity to one of supremacy until after several more months of hard combat, Midway allowed the Allies to switch to the strategic initiative, paving the way for the landings on Guadalcanal and the prolonged attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign. Midway allowed this to occur before the first of the new Essex-class fleet carriers became available at the end of 1942. The Guadalcanal Campaign is also regarded by some as a turning point in the Pacific War.

Some authors have stated that heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy. The loss of four large fleet carriers and over 40% of the carriers’ highly trained aircraft mechanics and technicians, plus the essential flight-deck crews and armorers, and the loss of organizational knowledge embodied in such highly trained crews, were still heavy blows to the Japanese carrier fleet. A few months after Midway, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service sustained similar casualty rates in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and it was these battles, combined with the constant attrition of veterans during the Solomons campaign, which were the catalyst for the sharp downward spiral in operational capability.

After the battle, Shōkaku and Zuikaku were the only large carriers of the original Pearl Harbor strike force still afloat. Of Japan’s other carriers, Taihō, which was not commissioned until early 1944, would be the only fleet carrier worth teaming with Shōkaku and Zuikaku; Ryūjō and Zuihō were light carriers, while Jun’yō and Hiyō, although technically classified as fleet carriers, were second-rate ships of comparatively limited effectiveness. In the time it took Japan to build three carriers, the U.S. Navy commissioned more than two dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers. By 1942 the United States was already three years into a shipbuilding program mandated by the Second Vinson Act of 1938.

Both the United States and Japan accelerated the training of aircrew, but the United States had a more effective pilot rotation system, which meant that more veterans survived and went on to training or command billets, where they were able to pass on lessons they had learned in combat to trainees, instead of remaining in combat, where errors were more likely to be fatal.

By the time the battle ended, 3,057 Japanese naval personnel had died. Casualties aboard the four sunk Japanese carriers were: Akagi: 267; Kaga: 811; Hiryū: 392 (including Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi who chose to go down with his ship); Soryū: 711 (including Captain Yanagimoto, who chose to remain on board); a total of 2,181. The heavy cruisers Mikuma (which was also sunk; 700 casualties) and Mogami (badly damaged; 92) accounted for another 792 deaths.

In addition, the destroyers Arashio (bombed; 35) and Asashio (strafed by aircraft; 21) were both damaged during the air attacks which sank Mikuma and caused further damage to Mogami. Floatplanes were lost from the cruisers Chikuma (3) and Tone (2). Dead aboard the destroyers Tanikaze (11), Arashi (1), Kazagumo (1) and the fleet oiler Akebono Maru (10) made up the remaining 23 casualties.

At the end of the battle, the U.S. lost the carrier USS Yorktown and a destroyer, USS Hammann. Total of 149 aircraft from US Navy and US Marine Corps were lost. Total 307 American naval personnel had been killed, including Major General Clarence L. Tinker, Commander, 7th Air Force, who personally led a bomber strike from Hawaii against the retreating Japanese forces on 7 June. He was killed when his aircraft crashed near Midway Island.

Attu Island , US Alaskan Territory , Aleutian Islands : Japanese troops from Northern Strike Force began to land Attu island.

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7 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine U-107 torpedoed and sank Honduran cargo ship Castilla 75 miles south of the western tip of Cuba at 0408 hours; 24 were killed, 35 survived. 50 miles north of the western tip of Cuba, German submarine U-158 torpedoed and sank Panamanian cargo ship Hermis; 1 was killed, 46 survived. At 2224 hours, German submarine U-159 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Edith 200 miles southeast of Jamaica; 2 were killed, 29 survived.

German submarine U-653 torpedoed and sank destroyer USS Gannet 240 miles north of Bermuda at 0742 hours; 14 were killed, 62 survived. US liberty ship George Clymer, damaged on the previous day by fast motor torpedoboat Esau launched by German armed merchant cruiser Michel, was scuttled by British armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara in the South Atlantic; Michel approached to attack HMS Alcantara during the rescue operation, but would arrive far too late.

700 miles southwest of Freetown, British West Africa, Italian submarine Da Vinci torpedoed and sank Danish cargo ship Chile; 5 were killed, 39 survived.

Liverpool , UK : Royal Navy Western Approach Command Submarine Tracking Room commander Rogere Winn published a very bleak report for Allied struggle in Battle of Atlantic. On June 1, Winn estimated that the Germans had built 355 U-boats to then, of which only seventy-five were positively known to have been sunk. That left a net force of about 280 to 285 commissioned U-boats on June 1. Furthermore, Winn estimated the Germans were building new U-boats at the rate of “15–25 per month.” If the forecast proved accurate, it meant the net force was to grow to at least 400 U-boats by January 1, 1943.

Many responsible American officials believed that disturbing forecast to be greatly understated, among them Admiral Adolphus Andrews, commander of the US Navy Eastern Sea Frontier. Analyzing the Winn paper, his diarist wrote in June that the number of surviving U-boats might be not 280 or 285 but as many as 325, of which not 125 but as many as 140 were assigned to the Atlantic force. Doubtless reflecting the views of Andrews, the diarist went on to predict on June 7 :

“At the present rate of building the Germans will have over 500 submarines by January 1, 1943. It is probable that most of the new construction will ultimately be used against us in the Atlantic. When it is remembered that in the first six months of the war [i.e., war with the United States] an average of 100 submarines available to operate in the Atlantic have caused very large losses, doubling or tripling of this number presents a problem of great seriousness, particularly when it is also remembered that sinkings of U-boats [by the Allies] have been so small as to be almost negligible during the same period. U-boat crews which were green in March are now hardened veterans [and] will form the working nucleus of the larger fleet to be at sea six months from now.”

Bir-Hakeim , Gazala , Libya : German engineers penetrated defensive minefield outside of Bir Hakeim, Libya, but the following German and Italian attack was repulsed by Free French garrison with RAF Desert Air Force air support. During the day four Desert Air Force raids were made against the German forces grouping in the minefields or behind them. That night, a last British supply convoy approached the fort and, in thick fog Free French scouts to guide the convoy in. The Germans used the fog to prepare a final assault; tanks, 88 mm guns and Colonel Hecker’s pioneers formed up in front of the fort.

Gazala , Libya : A series of weak probes were sent but no serious attacks launched by Eighth Army after mauling of Operation Abardeen the day before. General Gott , commander of 30th Corps , tried to persuade General Dan Pienaar commanding 2nd South African Division holding northern half of Gazala Line to attack to his south but Pienaar flatly refused on the basis that he was not going to hazard his division against a superior force. Pienaar was appeased and was invited to make a raid at brigade group strength but the South African responded by saying that he had insufficient time to organise it. Graciously, he did agree to lay on a few company-sized forays around 7 June. These achieved nothing but caused the loss of 280 men. Patently, Pienaar was in the wrong job and in the wrong army. He and his division were becoming a liability.

Meanwhile Eighth Army commander General Ritchie’s optimism and charm were no substitute for ‘grip’ and this he completely lacked. He remarked to Air Commodore Tommy Elmhirst, ‘I have sent my orders for tomorrow, but I know my corps commanders will hold a tea party on them and whether they will comply with my exact intentions is questionable.’ This sad and revealing remark reflects badly on Eighth Army commanders General Norrie and General Gott, who by now seemed to have forgotten the precepts of discipline fundamental to any army. The reluctance to accept an order as an order had spread further down the command chain. 1st and 7th Armored Division commanders General Lumsden and General Messervy made life difficult for Norrie, and General Dan Pienaar , commander of 1st South African Division , challenged every order from Gott as a matter of routine. This breakdown in discipline was symptomatic of the malaise now infecting the 8th Army. The organisation of the Army started to break down and this was manifest in the bizarre command structure that was agreed for an assault on the German bridgehead; this was designated ‘Operation Aberdeen’ the day before. Meanwhile on Axis side , Rommel now had a firm base that had been left unmolested for four days, during which time it had consolidated resupplied and rested.

The 7th Motor Brigade and 29th Indian Infantry Brigade continued to harass the Axis lines of communications.

Mediterranean Sea : A RAF Coastal Command PBY Catalina flying boat located Italian submarine Venierio on surface and sank her with depth charges off Majorca , Spain.

Crete , East Mediterranean : Operation Albumen , British/Free French/Free Greek Special Forces raids to destroy Luftwaffe aircraft in Crete airfields was launched. During the late spring of 1942, the airfields of Crete gained increased strategic importance by becoming the main transit base for Luftwaffe to supply logistic support to Rommel’s Afrika Korps in their advance on the Nile Delta. Luftwaffe aircraft based on Crete operated photo-reconnaissance, bombing and convoy attack missions covering the south-east Mediterranean region. Aiming to disrupt these operations, British generals in Cairo sent three groups from the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) and one from Captain David Stirling’s Special Air Service (SAS) to Crete to sabotage the airfields of Heraklion, Kastelli, Tympaki and Maleme.

Aircraft types operating from Crete at the time included the Ju 52 and Me 323 for transport, the Ju 88 and Ju 86 for bombing and photo-reconnaissance and the Bf 109 as a fighter.

Heraklion airfield was allocated to the SAS group and the SBS groups were assigned to the other three airfields. The SBS groups were met by Tom Dunbabin, the British liaison officer with the Cretan resistance, who provided them with local guides. The date for all sabotage attacks was scheduled for the night of 7/8 June 1942.

The squad detailed to attack Kastelli airbase consisted of Captain G.I.A. Duncan of the Black Watch, two NCOs of the SBS and the Greek gendarme Vassilis Dramoundanis. The operation unfolded according to plan and on 7 June the saboteurs, assisted by the locals Giorgos Psarakis, Kimonas Zografakis (nicknamed Blackman) and Kostas Mavrantonakis, managed to destroy 5 aircraft, damage 29 other and set fire to several vehicles and considerable quantities of supplies (including about 200 tons of aviation fuel) using delayed-action bombs.

Malame and Tympaki airfields were abandoned by Luftwaffe so assault teams assigned to these locations came back empty handed.

The Heraklion airbase operation was commanded by George Jellicoe and included four members of the SAS Free French members under Georges Bergé (the other three being Jacques Mouhot, Pierre Léostic, and Jack Sibard), and Lieutenant Kostis Petrakis of the Hellenic Army. The group was transferred to Crete on board the Greek submarine Triton, and rowed ashore in three inflatable boats. They had intended to land at Karteros beach, but came ashore in the Gulf of Malia on the dawn of 10 June and behind schedule. Owing to landing at the wrong location, the men had to march overland to reach Heraklion airfield. They hid by day, and marched throughout the nights, finally arriving during the night of 12/13 June. Due to increased traffic caused by a succession of night sorties that was in progress, the team had to postpone their attack until the next evening. The group entered the airfield while it was being bombed by the RAF, and destroyed about 20 Ju 88s using Lewes bombs. All six saboteurs escaped from the airfield, but their retreat was betrayed, resulting in 17-year-old Pierre Léostic being killed and the other three Frenchmen being arrested. Jellicoe and Petrakis escaped to Egypt.

Operation Albumen was a highly sucessful commando raid operation in cooperation of British , French and Greek forces combined working together. Up to 55 German planes destroyed , 29 more planes damaged , 200 tons of aviation fuel destroyed and 12 German soldiers killed. In reprisal for the sabotage in Heraklion, German occupation forces executed 50 inhabitants of the greater Heraklion area in reprisal the next day. Prior to the attacks, on 3 June, the Germans had executed another 12 Heraklion citizens.

On 23 June, Jellicoe, Petrakis and the participants of the Kastelli , Malame and Tympaki operations were evacuated to Mersa Matruh, Egypt on a caique from Trypiti beach near the village of Krotos in south Crete. They reached Mersa Matruh shortly before it fell to Rommel’s advancing forces. Jellicoe was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Sevastapol , Crimea : German 11th Army attack on Sevastapol begins. German LIV Corps was to strike the main blow. Situated on the northeast edge of the city, they struck along the lines of least resistance, across the Belbek river while the German XXX and Romanian Mountain Corps conducted holding attacks in the south and center, respectively. Both the latter corps did not start major operations until 8 June.

On the morning of 7 June 1942, the German infantry began advancing cautiously. XXX Corps attacked the southern positions held by the Soviet 7th Naval Brigade and 388th Rifle Division. The German infantry advanced behind air and artillery support. The infantry seemed afraid of their fire support and did not advance close enough behind it. The bombardment also failed to have enough of an effect. The Soviet forces held their fire until the German forces were well within range before opening fire, and little progress was made. Luftflotte IV commander General Von Richthofen was angered by the fear of the infantry and called the day “a real disappointment”. The next few days were not much better, despite the Luftwaffe flying 1,200 sorties. The pace of operations exhausted the machines and men. Often crews did not get out of their aircraft and made three or four sorties without rest.

LIV Corps began its assault in the north on the seam of the Soviet defence sectors III and IV. The ‘Schwerer Gustav’ weapon continued to fire against ammunition dumps, which produced no effect. Nevertheless, the 132nd German Infantry Division was able to work its way up to the river. The 600 mm guns concentrated on the coastal batteries and Maxim Gorky fortress. Meanwhile, the German 22nd Infantry Division attacked further to the east. Some 200 Soviet reinforcements of the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade, protecting this sector, were lost in the bombardment, but the main defences held out. The brigade held most of its forces in reserve, while committing only a single company to cover the hilly terrain on the Belbek river front. German assault groups breached the first and reserve lines by 08:15. The German forces had to negotiate heavily mined areas, slowing them down and allowing the Soviet forces to make a partial recovery. Supporting operations by the 50th and 24th German Infantry Divisions failed, which cost the Wehrmacht 12 StuG assault guns. The remote-control demolition units were not effective as the terrain was unsuitable.

By 17:15 the town of Belbek was secured. The 22nd German Infantry Division made considerable progress in breaking through the defenses of the Soviet 25th Rifle Division. The 50th German Infantry Division supported the 22nd’s left flank. Now facing the Germans was the Haccius Ridge, on which the fortress Maxim Gorky was located. It was flanked by several smaller forts to the east.

Now the 132nd German Infantry Division was ordered to conduct a converging pincer movement on the Maxim Gorky fortress in conjunction with the 22nd and 50th Infantry Divisions, to trap its defenders against the coast. The 132nd pushed into the 95th Rifle Division’s positions north of the fort, while the other two divisions attacked in a flanking move. While the Germans did make progress, nearing the main railway station just southeast of Maxim Gorky, they were stopped from achieving a full-scale breakthrough by the 172nd Rifle Division. The 22nd and 50th Infantry Divisions had been heavily shelled by mortar fire from the 25th Rifle Division facing them east of the Haccius Ridge, which caused heavy casualties. By 18:00 hours, the German attack was spent.

LIV Corps’ losses on 7 June amounted to 2,357 casualties in four divisions, including 340 killed. It had also expended 3,939 tons of ammunition. The 132nd Division had exhausted all of its basic munitions load by midday. On the other side, the formidable Soviet defence lines east and southeast of Belbek had been overrun, and the Germans succeeded in advancing 2 km through dense Soviet defences. The Soviet casualties had also been severe. It is estimated that three battalions were effectively destroyed.

Even after five days’ bombardment, German 11th Army reported that the advancing infantry found the enemy ‘tougher than expected’.

France : All Jews over the age of six were forced to wear the Star of David in occupied France.

Indian Ocean : Norwegian cargo ship Wilford was shelled and sunk by Japanese submarine I-18 , nine out of 44 crewmen of Wilford were killed in this action

Pacific Ocean : American carrier USS Saratoga transferred aircraft to USS Enterprise and USS Hornet so that they could sail north to reinforce the Aleutian Islands.

After sinking USS Yorktown , Japanese submarine I-168 evaded US escort ships hunting her and left the area to return back to Japan

Japanese submarine I-26 torpedoed and sank US freighter Coast Trader 35 miles west of Washington, United States; 1 was killed, 55 survived.

Aleutian Islans , US Territory of Alaska , Pacific Ocean : Japanese troops occupied Kiska, Aleutian Islands, US Territory of Alaska.

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8 June 1942

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-107 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Suwied 100 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico at 0119 hours; 6 were killed, 27 survived. At 0500 hours, German submarine U-172 torpedoed and sank US cargo ship Sicilien 10 miles south of Cape Beata, Dominican Republic; 44 were killed, 31 survived. At 0700 hours, U-504 torpedoed and sank Huondran cargo ship Tela with two torpedoes 100 miles southeast of Cozumel; 11 were killed, 43 survived. At 1800 hours, U-504 struck again, torpedoed sinking British cargo ship Rosenborg with her deck gun; 4 were killed, 23 survived.

German submarine U-135 torpedoed and sank Norwegian cargo ship Pleasantville 225 miles northwest of Bermuda at 0316 hours; 2 were killed, 45 survived. German submarine U-128 torpedoed and sank Norwegian tanker South Africa 400 miles east of Trinidad at 1419 hours; 6 were killed, 36 survived.

North Atlantic : By using B-Dienst (German Navy intelligence wireless decryption) intelligence , German U-Boat pack HECHT began to position to attack Convoy ON 100 (Outbound Nıorth) escorted by the well-trained and experienced Canadian group C-1, which, however, had sailed minus one destroyer and one corvette (both in refit), leaving only five ships: the veteran Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine and four corvettes, two British and two Free French. All five escorts were equipped with radar (four with Type 271) and the convoy rescue ship, Gothland, was fitted with Huff Duff. Additional protection was provided by the fighter-catapult ship, Empire Ocean, carrying a Hurricane fighter.en route from Canada to UK.

By the afternoon German submarine U-162 contacted the convoy and began to shadow it , then calling other submarines inthe pack towards the convoy

Bay of Biscay , France : On her return trip from her Caribbbean patrol to France , German submarine U-162 cruising on the surface , was detected by a RAF Coastal Command Wellington bomber on patrol over Bay of Biscay via airborne radar that directed her attack with two depth charges. U-162 crash dived and depth charges missed.

Bir-Hakeim , Gazala , Libya : On the morning of 8 June, after the defeat of Operation Aberdeen released part of the 15th Panzer Division , entire Italian Trieste motorised infantry division and Group Hecker for the siege of Bir Hakeim. Artillery and battlegroups from 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions began to deploy for start of what would be the final assault on Bir Hakeim fort; this final assault would be personally led by Erwin Rommel.

In the late morning Rommel commanded an attack from the north, approaching as close as possible in thick fog, with artillery firing directly against the fortifications. The Luftwaffe made constant attacks, including a raid by forty-five Ju 87 Stukas, three Junkers Ju 88 bombers and ten Messerschmitt Me 110 twin-engined fighters escorted by fifty-four fighters. Just before 10:00 a.m. the attack began, aiming at a low rise which would overlook the French defences. The Chadian and Congolese defenders held on despite many casualties and in the afternoon, another sixty Stukas bombed the perimeter and an attack was made all round the northern defences. A French ammunition dump was blown up and the French defensive perimeter forced back but held on. Under heavy Axis artillery support , German 90th Light Infantry Division spearheads also advanced from lanes opened up across minefields and reached just a few hundred meters of inner defensive perimeter but again a determined Free French resistance drove the attackers back.

Despite the continued Luftwaffe aerial bombardment and Ais artillery fire, the Free French refused to yield, resisting with such valour that German general von Mellenthin was moved to record that ‘in the whole course of the desert war we never encountered a more heroic or well-sustained defence’. From London, General de Gaulle broadcast: ‘General Koenig, know and tell your troops that the whole of France is looking at you and you are her pride.’ Koenig responded ‘We are surrounded. Our thoughts are always with you. Long live Free France.’

General Kœnig also reported to Eighth Army that the garrison was exhausted, had suffered many casualties and was down to its reserve supplies; he asked for more air support and a relief operation. Desert Air Force made another maximum effort, flew a record 478 sorties and during the night, Hawker Hurricane fighters and Douglas Boston bombers dropped supplies to the garrison. The Desert Air Force lost eight fighters (three to Italian Macchi C.202 fighters) and two bombers; the Luftwaffe lost two aircraft and the Regia Aeronautica one.

In the evening, French General Pierre Kœnig decided the fort would be abandoned on 11 Jun 1942.

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-83 sank Egyptian cargo ship Said with her deck gun 15 miles southwest of Jaffa, British Palestine at 0511 hours; 5 were killed, 9 survived. At 2330 hours, U-83 struck again, sinking Palestinian sail boat Esther with her deck gun 10 miles off Sidon, Syria-Lebanon.

In a friendly fire incident , Italian submarine Alagi torpedoed and sank Italian destroyer Antoniotto Usodimare with a torpedo 100 miles north of Cape Bon, Tunisia in a case of mis-identification.

Sevastapol : General Manstein commander of German 11th Army besieging Sevastapol recognised the seriousness of the failure on 8 June. He was worried that the 132nd Infantry Division, locked in combat with the 79th Naval Brigade and 95th and 172nd Rifle Divisions north of the city on the Belbek river front, was “approaching the end of its strength”. Once again, the army turned to the Luftwaffe for support. The commander of Luftflotte IV General Von Richthofen responded by ordering attacks against Soviet supply lines. The same day, German bombers, including KG 100, began attacks on Soviet shipping.

Vilna , Baltics : Three Jews, among them a young woman, Vitka Kempner, left the Vilna ghetto on their first ever sabotage mission. Their target was a German military train, and they succeeded. ‘It’s been blown up!’—the words spread throughout the ghetto, bringing a sense of achievement, if not of hope. But the reprisals were swift. Thirty-two families were seized by the Gestapo, taken to Ponar, and shot.

Essen , Germany : 170 British bombers (92 Wellington, 42 Halifax, 14 Stirling, 13 Lancaster, 9 Hampden)from RAF Bomber Command attacked Essen, Germany, killing 13 and wounding 42; 19 bombers were lost on this mission either shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters or anti aircraft guns.

Berlin , Germany : Hitler personally lays a laurel of wreath while Berlin Philhormonic Orchestra plays Gotterdammurg from Wagner during Heydrich’s funeral

Indian Ocean : Japanese submarine I-10 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship King Lud in the Mozambique Channel at 0953 hours with torpedoes, killing all aboard. In the same area, Japanese submarine I-16 sank Greek ship Aghios Georgios IV with her deck gun and I-18 sank Norwegian ship Wilford with her deck gun. In the middle of the Indian Ocean, I-20 torpedoed and sank Greek cargo ship Christos Markettos.

Australia : Japanese submarine I-24 fired 10 shells at the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia shortly after 0000 hours, scoring no hits on the bridge but destroyed one house nearby. At 0215 hours, another Japanese submarine I-21 surfaced near Newcastle, Australia and fired 34 shells, damaging a house near the BHP steelworks; as the coastal guns at Fort Scratchley fired at I-21 (which caused no damage), this became the only time where Australian land-based guns would fire at a Japanese ship in the war.

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9 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarine wolfpack HECHT started attacking convoy ON100 (Outbound North) in North Atlantic. German submarine U-124 launched torpedoes convoy at 0410 hours, sinking Free French corvette Mimosa with 2 torpedoes; 65 were killed, 4 survived.

Meanwhile further west German submarine U-432 attacked Allied convoy BX-23A 100 miles southwest of Pubnico, Nova Scotia, Canada at 1300 hours, torpedoed and damaged British cargo ship Malayan Prince and Norwegian cargo ship Kronprinsen (1 killed); Kronprinsen was beached to prevent sinking.

Caribbean Sea : German submarine U-502 attacked Allied convoy TO-5 35 miles northeast of Cape Blanco, Venezuela, torpedoed and sank Belgian cargo ship Bruxelles and US tanker Franklin K Lane (4 were killed, 37 survived).

Gibraltar : Allied convoy HG-84 (Homebound Gibraltar) made of 20 merchant ships sailed from Gibraltar under escort of Captain Johnny Walker’s famous Escort Group 36 (that defended another Gibraltar convoy HG-76 in a legendary battle that eventually sank five German submarines in exchange of losing escort carrier HMS Audacity and one Royal Navy destroyer and two merchant ships) , which had been reduced temporarily to four vessels: Walker’s sloop HMS Stork and three corvettes. The convoy included one fighter-catapult ship, Empire Morn, equipped with one Hurricane to counterattack German aircraft. A rescue vessel, Copeland, fitted with Huff Duff radio direction triangulation apparatus , brought up the rear. On June 11, three escorted merchant ships from Lisbon joined the convoy, but those escorts proceeded to other assignments.
As soon as HG-84 sailed though a German spy in Gibraltar informed Berlin its depature and German wolfpack “Endrass” made up nine German submarines formed patrol lline to intercept the convoy.

Bir-Hakeim , Gazala , Libya : Rommel , tired of interfarence from one brigade of French and Palestanian Jews for almost two weeks , started an all out attack on Bir Hakeim. German 15th Panzer Division launched an attack on 1st Free French Brigade positions at Bir Hakeim, Libya at 1300 hours, supported by artillery pieces and dive bombers. On the morning of 9 June, twenty Ju 88s and forty Ju 87 Stukas escorted by fifty Me 110 and Bf 109 fighters, attacked Bir Hakeim. The Germans waited for the rest of the 15th Panzer Division to arrive as German artillery and aircraft bombarded the fort. Then a two-prong attack struck the perimeter. Italian infantry fought alongside Kampfgruppe Wolz, the German and native infantry of Sonderverband 288 (Special Commando 288) from the 90th Light Division, elements of the reconnaissance and infantry units of 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions and Kampfgruppe Kiehl a company of 11 tanks. The objective was Point 186, the top of a gentle rise in the ground which acted as a fire-control position for the garrison. A few skirmishes occurred between the 66th Infantry Regiment of the “Trieste” Division and the men of Lieutenant Bourgoin, whose unit was down only to hand grenades and fought hand to hand with storming German infantry breaching groups. The Bataillon de Marche made a determined defence but was forced back to the trenches and emplacements inside inner defence line, despite reinforcements of the 22nd North African Company. Here however a determined resistance by battalion and heavy gunfire from French artillery halted German advance again.

In the afternoon, to the south near the old fort, Oberstleutnant Ernst-Günther Baade led two battalions of Rifle Regiment 115 from German 90th Light Division into the assault and in a costly advance under Free French artillery and small arms fire, they established themselves within 200 m (200 yd) of the fort by nightfall. At 1:00 p.m., as 130 Luftwaffe aircraft bombed the north face of the fort, the German infantry and the 15th Panzer Division attacked behind an artillery barrage. The attackers breached the 9th Company lines and the central position of Aspirant Morvan but the situation was restored with a Bren Carrier counter-attack.

Many Desert Air Force aircraft were unserviceable and the effort for the day was much reduced but two Hurricanes dropped medical supplies; diversions attempted by columns from the 7th Motor Brigade and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade were too small to have much effect.[ In the afternoon Messervy, the commander of the 7th Armoured Division, signalled that a break-out might be necessary and Kœnig asked for Desert Air Force protection, for an evacuation at 11:00 p.m. that night. The request was made at too short notice and the garrison had to wait until the night of 10 June for a rendezvous to be arranged by the British to the south.

The French Legionaires (now reduced to half a cup of water per man per day) were cut off from the rest of the brigade, but by dusk the tenacious defenders were still hanging on desperately to their positions.

“This was a remarkable achievement on the part of French defenders” recorded Rommel. “who were now complately cut off from outside world. To tire them out , flares were firedand defences were covered with machine gun fire throughout the following night. Yet when my storming parties went again in next morning , French opened fire again with undiminished violance. The enemy troops hung on grimly in their trenches anbd remained invisible.”

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Eagle launched 32 Spitfire fighters for Malta , 31 of them landed Malta safely.

A RAF Coastal Command PBY Catalina flying boat located , bombed and sank Italian submarine Zaffiro while cruising on the surface south of Palma, Majorca, Spain, killing all 47 aboard.

Sevastapol , Crimea : Failing to break Soviet defensive lines, the German offensive at Sevastopol, Russia that began two days prior was temporarily paused, General Manstein instead letting aircraft and artillery pieces soften up the defensive positions while making limited advances to capture first line of Soviet defences. Several Soviet counterattacks were repulsed with heavy losses for attacking Red Army units. The German LIV Corps extended the salient they captured on the seam of the III and IV sector to 3 km, determined to break through before General Petrov commanding Soviet Coastal Army could reinforce his lines. The 132nd Infantry Division cleared the Haccius Ridge while the 22nd Infantry Division overran most of the Soviet 79th Naval Infantry Brigade.

Still , on 8-9 June , German LIV Corps had lost 1,700 men. In return, the lodgement in Soviet lines was extended to 3 km deep and 5 km wide. In the south, XXX Corps made no progress in four days of attacks. They suffered 496 casualties at the hands of the 109th Rifle Division. The 28th Light and 72nd Infantry Divisions had succeeded in puncturing the Soviet lines opposite the 109th and 388th Rifle Divisions. Manstein later quoted “it is as if we are fighting on razor edge of a sharp knife !”

Kharkov , Russia German Sixth Army starts an advance to capture a bridgehead across Don in preperation for incoming Operation Blue offensive on Caucaus. On 10 June, at two in the morning, companies from German 297th Infantry Division began to cross the Donets by assault boat. Having secured a foothold on the far side, pioneer companies set to work constructing a sixty-yard pontoon bridge.

Lidice , Czechoslovakia : SS Security Police surrounded the mining village of Lidice outside Prague due to a mistaken clue that assasins were from Lidice.

Berlin , Germany : A lavish funeral was held for Reinhard Heydrich in Berlin. He was posthumously awarded the German Order. At his state funeral in Berlin on June 9, SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler told the assembled SS mourners that theirs was a ‘holy obligation’ to avenge Heydrich’s death, ‘and to destroy with even greater determination the enemies of our nation, mercilessly and pitilessly’.

Washington , USA : The Combined Production and Resources Board was set up to allocate the combined economic resources of the United States and Britain.

Bletchley Park , UK : British codebreakers in Bletchley Park break and decode German “Mosquito” Enigma rotor code and begin reading German Army Group South movements in Eastern Front as soon as operational orders were issued by radio.

USA : The American newspaper Chicago Tribune reported the Battle of Midway victory, hinting that the US Navy had knowledge of Japanese strengths prior to the engagement; this would later, in Aug 1942, trigger a Federal investigation.

USAAF claimed part of the credit for the American victory at Midway despite that no land-based aircraft hit any Japanese warship.

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10 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : Battle of ON-100 continues. German submarine U-94 attacked Allied convoy ON-100 880 miles east of Newfoundland, at 0340 hours, torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Empire Clough (5 were killed, 44 survived) and British cargo ship Ramsay (40 were killed, 7 survived) Other German submarines are getting hard time getting close to fire their torpedoes though due to agressive nature of Royal Canadian Navy escorts , zigzag maneucvers of ships in convoy , bad weather and inexperience of several German submarine captains and crews in HECHT wolfpack.

At the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River several kilometers off Anticosti Island, Quebec, Canada, German submarine U-553 torpedoed and sank British freighter Nicoya and Dutch freighter Leto.

Dutch cargo ship Alioth was torpedoed and sunk by Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-107 torpedoed and sank US troopship Merrimack 60 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico at about 0520 hours; 43 were killed, 10 survived. In the Caribbean Sea, German submarine U-68 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Ardenvohr at 0520 hours (1 was killed, 70 survived), British cargo ship Surrey also at about 0520 hours (12 were killed, 55 survived), and British cargo ship Port Montreal shortly before 2359 hours (all 88 aboard survived, but 2 would die before being rescued).

German submarine U-157 torpedoed and sank US tanker Hagan just off the northern coast of Cuba, killing 6 of 44 aboard.
In the evening, German submarine U-129 torpedoed and sank Norwegian cargo ship LA Christensen 340 miles south of Bermuda at 2006 hours; all 31 aboard survived

North Sea : Norwegian cargo ship Haugurland struck a mine and sank

Barents Sea : Soviet submarine D-3 became missing in the Barents Sea, probably lost in the Bantos-A minefield off Rybachy Peninsula near Murmansk, Russia or the Schpeer III minefield off Berlevog, Norway.

Bir-Hakeim , Gazala , Libya : German JU-87 Stuka dive bombers preceded another assault on the French-held fort at Bir Hakeim, Libya (that would by over 1.300 air raids over Bir-Hakeim), but the Free French defense repulsed another Axis infantry attack. During 10 June, the French hung on and suffered many casualties; with only two hundred 75 mm rounds and 700 mortar rounds left, another German attack on the northern sector against the Oubangui-Chari and 3rd Foreign Legion Battalion lines was contained by a counter-attack by the Messmer and Lamaze units, supported by Bren Gun Carriers and the last mortar rounds. In the afternoon, the biggest air attack of the siege, a raid by a hundred JU-87 Stukas dropped 130 long tons (132 t) of bombs. In the afternoon 90th Light Infantry Division and elements of 21st Panzer Division started an all out offensive on Free French defences with huge artillery support and suceeded penetrating in main northern defences. French garrison still furiously defended every trench and every foxhole and every gun nest with hand to hand combat in several cases. The last rounds of ammunition were issued among French defenders and bodies searched for spare cartridges; Rommel predicted that Bir Hakeim would fall the next day but resisted pressure to attack with tanks, fearing that many would be lost in the minefields

By the end of the day, the French troops had practically run out of ammunition; at 2300 hours, Kœnig began the process to evacuate from the fort.

Mediterranean Sea : German submarine U-81 attacked Allied convoy AT-49 7 miles off the Egyptian coast 50 miles west of Alexandria, torpedoed and sinking British cargo ship Havre at 0218 hours; 20 were killed, 30 survived). At 0456 hours, another German submarine U-559 also attacked the same convoy with torpedoes , damaging Norwegian tanker Athene (detonating her store of aviation fuel which would lead to her sinking on 12 Jun 1942; 14 were killed, 17 survived) and damaging Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler Brambleleaf (7 were killed, 53 survived) beyond rpair (she will be used as an empty hulk in Alexandria)

Sevastapol , Crimea : Soviet 79th Naval Infantry Brigade tried counterattacking on 10 June, but was repulsed by German artillery fire and Luftwaffe bombing. The Soviet formation was effectively destroyed, with the support of the Luftwaffe, which used anti-personnel bombs against Soviet infantry caught in the open. Only one battalion (the Soviet 1st Batt./241st Rifle Regiment) was in a position to block the Germans from encircling the Maxim Gorky fort.

Black Sea : Luftwaffe JU-88 medium bombers hit and sank Soviet destroyer Svobodnyy and transport Abkhaziya in port at Sevastopol, Russia.

Kharhov , Ukraine : A massive German 33-division offensive was launched from the Kharkov region of Ukraine , starting with German Sixth Army began crossing Donets river in the morning from pontoon bridges. Having secured a foothold on the far side in the morning by crossing vanguard of German 297th Infantry Division , pioneer companies set to work constructing a sixty-yard pontoon bridge. By evening tanks of the 14th Panzer Division were rattling across. The next morning, a bridge further upstream was seized before the Soviet troops guarding it could blow their charges. German Sixth Army then switched their attention to the shallower Volchansk salient, on 10 June. The operation was another German success, and within three days provided a jumping-off point for Operation Blau with smashing of 28th Soviet Army 10.000 more Soviet prisoners

Leningrad Front , Russia : Soviet 2nd Shock Army, largely surrounded by German forces on the Volkhov River near Leningrad, Russia since mid-Jan 1942, began to extract itself from its disadvantageous position by using using grounds that were firming up due to the warmer weather.

Bosnia-Herzigova , Yugoslavia : Axis forces launched the Kozara Offensive against the Tito’s Partisan Army in northwestern Bosnia.

Lidice , Czechoslovakia : The eulogies at Heydrich’s funeral in Berlin were not yet over when, on 9 June, the decision was made to “make up for his death”. Herman Frank, Secretary of State for the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, reported from Berlin that Hitler had commanded the following concerning any village found to have harbored Heydrich’s killers:

Execute all adult men
Transport all women to a concentration camp
Gather the children suitable for Germanisation, then place them in SS families in the Reich and bring the rest of the children up in other ways
Burn down the village and level it entirely

Horst Böhme, the SiPo (SS Security Police) chief for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, immediately acted on the orders. Members of the Ordnungspolizei and SD (Sicherheitsdienst) surrounded the village of Lidice, blocking all avenues of escape. The Nazi regime chose this village because its residents were suspected of harbouring local resistance partisans and were falsely associated with aiding Operation Anthropoid (assasination of Heydrich) team members.

All men of the village were rounded up and taken to the farm of the Horák family on the edge of the village. Mattresses were taken from neighbouring houses where they were stood up against the wall of the Horáks’ barn to prevent ricochets. The shooting of the men commenced at about 7:00 am. At first the men were shot in groups of five, but Böhme thought the executions were proceeding too slowly and ordered that ten men be shot at a time. The dead were left lying where they fell. This continued until the afternoon hours when there were 173 dead. Another 11 men who were not in the village that day were arrested and murdered soon afterwards as were eight men and seven women already under arrest because they had relations serving with the Czech army in exile in the United Kingdom. Only three male inhabitants of the village survived the massacre, two of whom were in the RAF and stationed in England at the time.

A total of 203 women and 105 children were first taken to Lidice village school, then the nearby town of Kladno and detained in the grammar school for three days. The children were separated from their mothers and four pregnant women were sent to the same hospital where Heydrich died, forced to undergo abortions and then sent to different concentration camps. On 12 June 1942, 184 women of Lidice were loaded on trucks, driven to Kladno railway station and forced into a special passenger train guarded by an escort. On the morning of 14 June, the train halted on a railway siding at the concentration camp at Ravensbrück. The camp authorities tried to keep the Lidice women isolated, but were prevented from doing so by other inmates. The women were forced to work in leather processing, road building, textile and ammunition factories.

Eighty-eight Lidice children were transported to the area of the former textile factory in Gneisenau Street in Łódź. Their arrival was announced by a telegram from Horst Böhme’s Prague office which ended with: the children are only bringing what they wear. No special care is desirable.[citation needed] The care was minimal and they suffered from a lack of hygiene and from illnesses. By order of the camp management, no medical care was given to the children. Shortly after their arrival in Łódź, officials from the Central Race and Settlement branch chose seven children for Germanisation. The few children considered racially suitable for Germanisation were handed over to SS families.

The furore over Lidice caused some hesitation over the fate of the remaining children but in late June Adolf Eichmann ordered the massacre of the remainder of the children. On 2 July, all of the remaining 82 Lidice children were handed over to the Łódź Gestapo office, who sent them to the Chelmno extermination camp 70 kilometres (43 miles) away, where they were gassed to death in Magirus gas vans. Out of the 105 Lidice children, 82 died in Chełmno, six died in the German Lebensborn orphanages and 17 returned home.

The village was set on fire and the remains of the buildings destroyed with explosives. All the animals in the village—pets and beasts of burden—were slaughtered as well. Even those buried in the town cemetery were not spared; their remains were dug up, looted for gold fillings and jewellery, and destroyed. A 100-strong German work party was then sent in to remove all visible remains of the village, re-route the stream running through it and the roads in and out. They then covered the entire area the village had occupied with topsoil and planted crops.

The small Czech village of Ležáky was destroyed by SS Security Police two weeks after Lidice, when Gestapo agents found a radio transmitter there that had belonged to an underground team who parachuted in with Kubiš and Gabčík. All 33 adults (both men and women) from the village were shot. The children were sent to concentration camps or “Aryanised”

Official German statement announces this action was taken “to teach Czechs a final lesson in subservience and humility”

Czechoslovakia : The Lidice and Lezaky killings were only the start of what the SS described as Operation Heydrich. On that same June 10, a thousand Jews were deported from Prague ‘to the East’. The only survivor was a man who managed to jump from the train early in its journey. There was likewise only one survivor of two further trains, each carrying a thousand deportees, which left the ‘model’ ghetto of Theresienstadt on June 12 and 13 ‘to an unknown destination in the East’. All three trains had probably gone to Minsk, and then on to Maly Trostenets extermination camp, where gas vans operated without respite.

Auschwitz , Poland : At Auschwitz Concentration Camp, about 50 Polish prisoners in the penal company attempted to escape while working at a drainage ditch in Birkenau; it was the first mass escape in the history of the camp. 9 were able to escape successfully. In response, the SS guards executed 20 prisoners by firing squad and sent 300 prisoners from the penal company in the gas chamber.

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11 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : German submarines U-569 and U-94 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Pontypridd 500 miles east of Newfoundland; 2 were killed, 46 survived).

A Royal Canadian Navy PBY Catalina flying boat located German submarine U-553 cruising on surface off Gulf of St. Lawrence and attacked her with two depth charges that severely damaged U-553 , causing her to end her patrol and return to France

US tanker F.W Abrams struck a friendly mine and sank off East Coast of US

German submarine U-455 torpedoed and sank British tanker Geo H Jones that straggled behind convoy SL-111 , 500 miles northeast of the Azores islands; 2 were killed, 40 survived.

German armed merchant cruiser Michel intercepted , shelled and sank British freighter Lylepark in the South Atlantic; 20 were killed, 21 survived and were captured, 4 survived and escaped capture.

Also on this day, on the US Eastern Seaboard coast, U-373 and U-701 laid mines just at the mouth of the Delaware Bay and off Virginia Beach, respectively, which would cause Allied merchant ship sinkings in the days to come.

Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea : German submarine U-159 attacked a small Allied convoy off Panama in the Caribbean Sea, torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Fort Good Hope; 2 were killed, 45 survived.

German submarine U-504 torpedoed and sank Norwegian passenger liner Crijnssen (1 was killed, 92 survived) and US cargo ship American (4 were killed, 34 survived) 50 miles southwest of Grand Cayman Island. To the north, in the Gulf of Mexico, German submarine U-158 torpedoed and sank Panamanian tanker Sheherazade south of Louisiana, United States; 1 was killed, 58 survived.

Bay of Biscay , France : On the morning of June 11, a radar-equipped Sunderland of Royal Australian Air Force Squadron 10, piloted by Eric B. Martin from RAF Coastal Command, caught German submarine U-105 on the surface about 150 miles west of Cape Finisterre. Martin dropped six shallow-set Torpex depth charges and two 250-pound ASW bombs. The attack severely damaged U-105, killing or wounding about ten men aboard German submarine. Admiral Dönitz diverted four inbound and outbound submarines in Bay of Biscay to assist U-105, but none could find her. She limped unassisted into EI Ferrol, Spain, and after makeshift repairs, the boat resailed on June 28 with a German aircraft escort and reached France. Repairs kept her out of action until late November.

Bir-Hakeim , Gazala , Libya : General Koenig plans a night time breakout from Axis siege lines to retreat and save his brigade. He observed that Axis siege on western positions was not complately sealed , there is a gap. (Rommel did not put siege lines properly in haste and excitement of the batle) As darkness fell, French engineers began to clear mines from the western face of the fortress for their night breakpout in the darkness, heavy equipment was prepared for demolition and two companies were detailed to stay behind to disguise the retirement. A rendezvous was arranged with the 7th Motor Brigade, which ran a convoy of lorries and ambulances to a point 7 km (4.5 mi) south of the fort. Mine clearance by engineers took longer than expected and they were only able to clear a narrow passage, rather than a 200 m (200 yd) corridor. Vehicles went astray and the ambulances and walking-wounded left the perimeter 75 minutes late at 8:30 p.m. Kœnig put the fort under the command of Amilakhvari, the Foreign Legion commander and left the fort at the head of the column in his Ford, driven by Susan Travers, an English nurse, the only female member of French Foreign Legion (and one of several women, mostly British, present at the siege).

A flare rose and the Axis troops nearby opened fire. The HQ column guide got lost and was blown up three times by mines. When Kœnig caught up with the main column, it was blocked by troops of the 90th Light Division and he ordered a rush, regardless of the mines; Lamaze, Capitaine Charles Bricogne and Lieutenant Dewey were killed in the mêlée. However rest of the French column , in vehicles or on foot in the darkness advanced , engaged German siege lines in darkness under flares fired by Germans and Italians and fought their way out.

French troops evacuated Bir Hakeim, Libya after 16 days of stubborn defense that incurred 3,330 casualties on the Axis side; the French suffered 984 casualties while defending this fort; including 500 seriously wounded troops were left behind in the fort. During the evacuation, heavy German artillery bombardment caused a panic and caused several French vehicles to drive off of the cleared path into surrounding minefields, detonating several in the process. Still 2,700 men from 3.650 strong 1st Free French Brigade , garrisoned Bir-Hakeim and defended it against full strength of Afrikakorps more than two weeks broke through and escaped from Axis siege. The retreating French column made contact with British 7th Motorised Brigade on Bir el Gubi at 0400 hours and this combined column then withdraw to Gasr-el-Arid by 7:00 a.m. on 11 June.

The Free French occupation of Bir Hakeim had lengthened the Axis supply route around the south end of the Gazala line, caused them losses and gave the British more time to recover in the wake of their defeat at the Cauldron. From 2 to 10 June the Desert Air Force had flown about 1,500 sorties and lost 19 fighters over the fort, against about 1,400 Axis sorties in which 15 German and five Italian aircraft were shot down; the 7th Motor Brigade ran four supply convoys into Bir Hakeim from 31 May to 7 June. Free French morale was raised by its performance in the battle; a victory had been badly needed to show the Allies that the army of the French was a serious force, which could contribute to the war against Germany. The term Free French was replaced by Fighting French, because the battle had shown the world that a revival after the defeat in 1940 was under way; De Gaulle used it to undermine co-operation with the Vichy regime. In 1960, the British official historian Ian Playfair wrote:

“At the outset it had made longer and more difficult the enemy’s temporary supply route; it had caused him many casualties and it gave the British a chance to recover from their defeat in the Cauldron. General Kœnig’s brigade made a great impression upon the enemy by their courageous and enterprising resistance and their success gave a well-won fillip to the pride of the Free French, who, for the first time in the Middle East, had fought the Germans and Italians in a complete formation on their own”

An officer who observed 1st Free French Brigade as they reached the British front line, noted that ‘some of these tough, bearded Frenchmen were almost in tears when they described their anger and frustration … They would have preferred to stay and die.’ De Gaulle was greatly affected. In a flush of high-flown rhetoric, he proclaimed, ‘When a ray of glory touched the bloodstained brows of her soldiers at Bir Hacheim, the world recognised France.’ After the war, as President of France, he ordered a Métro station near the Eiffel Tower to be renamed ‘Bir Hacheim’ in honour of its defenders.

With Bir Hakeim secured, Afrikakorps pushed toward El Adem later in the day and Knightsbridge in the evening. After 1900 hours, a few long range shots were exchanged between British and German tanks, but Erwin Rommel chose not to engaged in full combat that night.

Mediterranean Sea : Royal Navy Mediterranean Command prepares to launch a massive two pronged convoy operation from both ends of Mediterranean Sea to relieve Malta which is under Axis blockade and almost out of supplies. In a little bit desperation Royal Navy decides to run one convoy from Gibraltar to Malta (Operation Harpoon that will sail on 12th June ) made up six cargo ships escorted by two aircraft carriers , one battleship , four light cruisers , 17 destroyers , one minelayer and four minesweepers

Meanwhile to divert Axis attention and naval/air striking force , another convoy (Operation Vigorous) sailed in two sub convoys (code named MW11a and MW11b) from Alexandria , Egypt on 11th June , made up from 11 merchant ships in total escorted by eight Royal Navy light cruisers , 26 destroyers , nine submarines , two minesweepers , four corvettes , four fast motor torpedoboats and two rescue ships.

News of the two operations had been unwittingly revealed beforehand to the Axis by the US Military Attaché in Egypt, Colonel Bonner Fellers, who had been submitting detailed military reports on British activities to Washington. The American code was later revealed by Ultra intercepts to have been broken by Italian military intelligence. Therefore German and Italian navies and air force prepared a hot reception for both convoys.

Black Sea : Soviet submarine A-5 torpedoed and sank Romenian cargo ship Ardeal

Edinburgh , UK : RAF capture an intact latest model of a Luftwaffe FW-190 Focke Wulf fighter when German fighter pilot flew from Netherlands all the way to Scotland and landed on one of the RAF sector airfields then surrendered himself and his plane. British engineers are free to inspect this last model of German fighter now.

Sevastapol , Crimea : Luftwaffe flew 1,044 sorties over Sevastopol, Russia, dropping 954 tons of bombs for ten days. The outer defences were broken in some parts by German ground attack, but the most were still in Soviet hands on 12 June. The main belt on the Sapun Ridge (Sapun-gora) was unbroken. Soviet casualties amounted to 2,500, including 700 captured. By 13 June, German 30th Corps had lost 2,659 men, including 394 killed.

As the Germans made slow progress toward the main train station, General Petrov withdrew the battered 172nd Rifle Division and replaced it with 345th Rifle Division. Soviet 95th Rifle Division halted German 132nd Infantry Division’s progress in the north. Counterattacks by the Soviet 345th Division aimed at the hinge between the German 132nd and 50th Divisions were repulsed by the Luftwaffe. On 11–12 June, LIV Corps lost another 1,957 men. The Red Army had committed all of its reserves and were stretched dangerously thin. One more push might collapse the northern sector. But at this time, the tired German infantry were running short on reinforcements and ammunition.

The Luftwaffe had flown 1,044 sorties on 11 June, dropping 954 tons of bombs. The consumption rate of ammunition was putting von Richthofen’s logistical network under strain and he could no longer afford to fly massed bombing raids. On 11 June, he surmised there was less than two days worth of munitions left, requiring a change of tactics. Instead of carpet bombing, fewer targets would be attacked simultaneously, and aircraft would strike at designated targets in long and narrow lines. This was designed to maintain accurate pressure without wasting ordnance. Even this failed to alleviate shortages in the long term.

Germany : SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann met with representatives from France, Belgium, and Holland to coordinate the deportation of Jews.

Berlin , Germany : SS Reichsfuhrer Himmler demands 100.000 able bodied Jews deported from Vichy France to East

Washington , USA : US and Soviet goverments sign a Lend Lease deal for wartime and post war economic cooperation

Indian Ocean : British cargo ship Mahronda was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-20

Kiska , Aleutian Islands , Northern Pacific : Several American PBY Catalina aircraft from seaplane tender Gillis in Nazan Bay, Atka Island began a two-day raid on Japanese ships and positions on Kiska, Aleutian Islands, but ultimately would fail to drive the Japanese from the island.

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12 June 1942

Atlantic Ocean : The battle of Convoy ON 100 continues. German submarine U-124 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Dartford 550 miles east of Newfoundland; 30 were killed, 17 survived. The remaining four German submarines were unable to get position to attack the convoy due to active patrolling of Canadian escort ships that are pushing German submarine patrol line back , bad weather , engine and torpedo problems of German submarines.

German submarine U-129 torpedoed and sank British cargo ship Hardwicke Grange 400 miles north of Puerto Rico; 3 were killed, 75 survived.

Operation Pastorius: German submarine U-202 landed four saboteurs on American soil at Amagansett, New York, the first of many intended operations to sabotage economic targets within the United States

German FW-200 Condor recon bombers began tracking convoy HG-84 (Homebound Gibraltar) off Bay of Biscay and German submarines U-132 and U-552 formed wolfpack ENDRASS to intercept it , beaming other German submarines in the area to join the wolfpack.

Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico : German submarine U-158 torpedoed and sank US tanker Cities Service Toledo 40 kilometers south of Abbeville, Louisiana, United States, killing 15 of 45 aboard.

Washington , USA : In the first week of June, as the great Battle of Midway loomed, Admiral King convened yet another Convoy Conference in Washington on 12th June to deal with the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico shipping crisis. The conferees decided that a proposed coastal convoy system, Guantánamo Bay–New York–Guantánamo Bay, be postponed in favor of a temporary Key West–Trinidad–Key West convoy system to be initiated on July 1. In addition, a temporary Key West–Panama–Key West system and a Gulf of Mexico system were to follow as soon as possible. The British Royal Navy already seet up coastal convoy system in Caribbean Sea (which US Navy and Admiral King stubbornly refused to initiate so far due to lack of escort shipping excuse) and agreed to retain the British MOEF (Mid-Ocean Escort Force) group B-5 in the Caribbean to facilitate the start-up of these convoys.

Bay of Biscay , France : German minesweeper M-4212 struck a mine and sank in the Bay of Biscay; the mine was deployed by Free French submarine Rubis on 5 Jun 1942.

Gazala Line , Libya : Leaving Bir-Hakeim unsupported and letting fall to Panzer Army Afrika had been a huge blow for Eighth Army. Bir Hacheim had been the pivot in the elbow of the British position and the southernmost point. By vacating it Ritchie had abandoned the Gazala defensive line. Ritchie pulled, what remained of his left flank back to a line parallel with the Trigh Capuzzo line and running east-west, in line with the Mediterranean.

Rommel was now well placed to drive north and roll up the line of the former British positions towards the coast, take the Knightsbridge box and cut off part or all of General Norrie’ 13th Corps, which occupied a salient with 1st South African Division (Pienaar) holding the right of the line and anchored on the coast and his 50th Division (Ramsden) just to the south. The 2nd South African Division (Klopper) was further east and now in residence behind the much depleted and derelict defences of Tobruk.

The boxes at El Adem and Knightsbridge were the only bastions that obstructed Rommel’s march to Tobruk and sea. In early morning Rommel had spread his force over a wide front and General Norrie thought he saw an opportunity to smash him. He wanted to send the 140 cruiser tanks of the 4th and 2nd Armoured Brigades to attack 15th Panzer but Messervy considered this division of the British armour to be undesirable and set off to confer with his corps commander. In the event he did not reach Norrie’s headquarters for some hours during which the armoured brigades waited near Point 169 where they beat off a weak attack by 15th Panzer.

In 30th Corps there was a scene of complete confusion, with General Messervy (7th Armoured Division) and General Norrie, 13th Corps commander, each issuing plans that were not complementary. Messervy wanted to get his armour out of the defensive line of the Trigh Capuzzo and into the open desert where he could be more flexible and so he issued orders to that effect. Norrie, his boss, had decided to drive south and confront 15th Panzer Division. The only commonality in these orders was that both completely ignored the 8th Army instructions on the management of armoured forces.

Battle of Knightsbridge and El Adem boxes (last defensive positions before Tobruk) begins. Rommel was now free to press his advantage. On the morning 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions began attacking out of Cauldron. Cutting a swathe through the British defences, the panzers forced their way north until they reached the ‘Knightsbridge Box’. With the battleground all but obliterated by a severe sandstorm, the Axis tanks and artillery supported by waves of JU-87 Stuka dive bombers assaulted the target area from all sides. German and Italian infantry advanced en masse into minefields which surrounded the box but were forced back by the defending British Guards Brigade and its efficient 25 pounder anti tank gun and field artilley fire , which fought so valiantly as to earn a plaudit from Rommel for its ‘tremendous courage and tenacity’. Casualties from both sides littered the ground, their bodies eerily illuminated by burning vehicles which gave an orange tint to the sandstorm which swirled about them.

War correspondent Alan Moorehead likened the scene to another Battle of Waterloo:

“The English Guards with their strange and slightly automaton code of behaviour were peculiarly suited to this sort of action. It was something they understood. A position was given you to fortify and then you got the order to hold it to the last round and the last man … So these odd gawky officers with their prickly moustachios, their little military affectations, their high pitched voices and their little jokes from the world of Mayfair and Ascot kept bringing their men up to the enemy, and the men, because they were picked soldiers of the regular army and native Englishmen and Scots, did exactly as they were told.”

So resolute was their resistance that Rommel was forced to call off the assault. Auchinleck all the way from Cairo deluding himself the enemy offensive reached a high point , signalled, ‘Well done, 8th Army. Stick to it. Hang on to him. Never leave him. Do not let him get away. Give him no rest. Good luck to you all.’ But his congratulations were premature because his exhortations were ignored. ‘I don’t understand, why aren’t we following up?’ Colonel Young asked, his rhetorical question an expression of the bitter and widespread frustration at the failure of the Eighth Army’s senior commanders to seize the initiative. ‘We could have occupied the battlefield yesterday and grabbed all those Jerry tanks lying about. The Germans themselves are milling about all over the place. Why don’t we push in and mop them up? … We will have to move quick or you can bet your life they will return to form a line. I can’t understand it. I am only afraid that it is already too late.’ His pessimism was well grounded. Rommel’s heavy armour, concentrated in force, was perpetually on the move, feinting here and thrusting there while Ritchie’s commanders floundered.

As the Axis forces regrouped around the ‘Knightsbridge Box’, Rommel himself led the 15th Panzer Division in a simultaneous thrust towards El Adem. The 29th Indian Infantry Brigade repulsed an Afrikakorps attack on the El Adem box on 12 June where one of their British victims – captured not killed – turned out to be Colonel Young (who soon came face to face with Rommel – a fortuitous meeting which led the British officer to write his influential and admiring biography of the German General after the war). Yet again, Rommel came close to death. On the evening of the 12th, he noted laconically, ‘we were bombed by some of our own Stuka dive bombers . They were being chased by British fighters and, lame ducks that they were, were forced to drop their bombs on their own troops for the sake of some extra speed. However the three of us – Bayerlein, the driver and I – escaped once again without a scratch.’

Neither Claude Auchinleck nor Neil Ritchie (to be fair the latter was promoted beyond his non experience and abilities and set up to fail by his superior Auchinleck who was still trying to manage a mobile fluid battle all the way from Cairo) could imagine to take up risks like Rommel did.

Meanwhile Afrikakorps (15th and 21st Panzer Divisions) began destroying 1st and 7th British Armored Divisions piece by piece , brigade by brigade by feinting to attack then retreat and bringing following British armored brigades in range of lethal German 88 mm anti tank gun screens to smash them out. Meanwhile Rommel (who was reinforced with 33 more panzers recentlyy delivered in an convoy to Benghazi) is keeping his own tanks reserve , never risking them to piecemental , uncoordinated and unsupported offensives like British armored division commanders (1st Armored Division commander General Herbert Lumsden , 7th Armored Division General Frank Messervy and 30th Corps commander General Strafer Gott ) does that melts down British tank strength whole day. British 2nd and 4th Armoured Brigades on their left were pushed back 6 km (3.7 mi) by the 15th Panzer Division and had to leave their damaged tanks on the battlefield.

The lax radio discipline that had for too long been a feature of British communications in the desert again played into Rommel’s hands, as he knew Messervy’s intentions. The German Commander put in place arrangements to counter them. Historian Correlli Barnett observed succinctly:

At noon [on 12 June] Norrie placed 7th Armoured Division under the command of General Lumsden [1st Armoured Division] – because once more Messervy had disappeared – and instructed him to attack 15th Panzer Division immediately. Almost simultaneously Rommel ordered the 21st Panzer Division to drive into the rear of 7th Armoured Division. This division, caught waiting for orders and unprepared for battle, melted into a confused mass of vehicles ringed by German antitank guns and tanks.

Lumsden arrived on the scene, made an appreciation of the situation and he told Norrie that this was not the time to advance south. Norrie rejected Lumsden’s advice and insisted that the two armoured divisions must break through the lines of 15th Panzer Division and not fall back to the allegedly safe haven of the Knightsbridge box. The Battle of Knightsbridge that followed was the greatest defeat of British armour in history.

Typically, the battlefield was wreathed in smoke and swirling dust, the savagely hot summer sun was a further cruel element but despite countless acts of gallantry by anonymous British soldiers and, incidentally, a VC won by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Foote. Royal Tank Regiment, Rommel obliterated his British opposition. At the end of the day Rommel had swept all before him, cut the Trigh Capuzzo line between Knightsbridge and El Adem and established a strong position on the escarpment north of the ‘road’. He had also cut the bypass road around Tobruk. The implication of this was that the only viable route between those troops still manning a useless Gazala line and the sanctuary of the Egyptian border was the Via Balbia. Gott’s two divisions were highly vulnerable and he determined to take corrective action.

In the chaos, communications had been disrupted and Lumsden, who could get no orders or guidance from Norrie’s 13th Corps HQ, finally got a message that told him he was now under command of Gott’s 30th Corps. Much good that did, because for twelve hours he could not get in touch with Gott either. The losses of British armour was staggering – 200 Cruisers and sixty ‘I’ tanks.

Later on 13th June , Rommel greeted captured British brigadier Desmond Young (who was dazzled with energetic German commander too much) and mockingly asked : “Why you divide and commit your armor piecemental unsupported by other arms like infantry or artillery ? That way you give me chance to destroy them piecemental.”

Mediterranean Sea : Five British freighters and one tanker departed Gibraltar in Operation Harpoon with 43,000 tons of cargo for Malta, escorted by battleship HMS Malaya, carrier HMS Argus, carrier HMS Eagle, four light cruisers, 17 destroyers, four minesweepers, one minelayer, and 6 motor gunboats.

Eleven British ships departed Haifa, Palestine and Port Said, Egypt in Operation Vigorous escorted by battleship HMS Centurion (unarmed, serving as a deterrent only), eight cruisers, 26 destroyers, and nine submarines, also sailing for Malta; the Vigorous convoy was attacked by German JU- 88 bombers south of Crete, Greece, German bombers hit and damaging freighter City Of Calcutta, forcing her to sail for Tobruk, Libya for repairs.

German submarine U-77 torpedoed and sank Royal Navy destroyer HMS Grove 25 miles off Bardia, Libya at 0537 hours; 110 were killed, 60 survived.

Aegean Sea : Greek submarine Papanikolis shelled and sank two Italian sailing vessels Catina and Aghia Aikaterini on the surface in the Aegean Sea.

Sevastapol , Crimea : German 11th Army started a massibe artillery bombartment with Luftwaffe air bombing support to reduce Fort Stalin blocking the advance to Severnaya Bay. It was a tough position. The fortifications allowed the Soviet forces to concentrate artillery against breakthroughs and machine gun posts protected the fort from southern and eastern attacks, but it was vulnerable from a northern assault. In addition, only 200 men from the 345th Rifle Division were stationed there. German bombardment began on the morning. Artillery fire from ‘Dora’ had failed to neutralise the fort. Nevertheless, a combined arms attack from eleven 420 mm mortars and dive-bombing by Ju 87 Stuka bombers of StG 77 knocked out the fort’s main armament (three of the four 76.2 mm guns). At 19:00 the 22nd divisional artillery began shelling the fort and its smaller supporting fortress, Volga, located to Stalin’s rear, with 210, 280 and 305 mm weapons.

The outer Soviet defences were broken in some parts, but the most were still in Soviet hands on 12 June. The main belt on the Sapun Ridge (Sapun-gora) was unbroken. Soviet casualties amounted to 2,500, including 700 captured. Soviet light cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bditel’nyy delivered 2,998 men from the Soviet 138th Infantry Brigade along with 190 tons of ammunition and 28 artillery pieces to Sevastopol, Russia.

Ploesti , Romenia : 13 US B-24 bombers from RAF Fayid Air Basein Egypt bombed oil fields at Ploesti, Romania, causing minimal damage; 4 aircraft made emergency landings in Turkey and were interned

Berlin , Germany : SS Reichsfuhrer Himmler approved plans to exile 30 million Slavs living in Eastern Europe and Russia to Siberia

Dabrewo Gornicza , Silesia , Poland : Ten Poles, accused of sabotage in an iron foundry in the Silesian town of Dabrowa Gornicza, were hanged at a street corner, and their bodies left hanging as a warning to all future saboteurs.

Auschwitz , Poland : During the morning roll call at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, 60 Polish prisoners were called out. They were shot at the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11 in retaliation of clandestine resistance organizations in Silesia region. The victims were transferred to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1942 from Sosnowiec, Katowice, and Krakow.

Tokyo , Japan : The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued the Great Army Instruction No. 1 for a study on the possibility of an over-land invasion of Port Moresby, Australian Papua.

Indian Ocean : Japanese submarine I-16 torpedoed and sank Yugoslavian cargo ship Supetar in the Mozambique Channel. In the same area, Japanese submarine I-20 torpedoed and sank Panamanian cargo ship Hellenic Trader and British cargo ship Clifton Hall.

Kiska , Aleutian islands : US B-17 and B-24 bombers raided Kiska, Aleutian Islands, damaging Japanese destroyer Hibiki.

South West Pacific : Japanese submarine I-21 fired 4 torpedoes at an Allied convoy 40 miles off Sydney, Australia at 0114 hours, sinking US collier Guatemala

Pacific Ocean : American submarine USS Swordfish toropedoed and sank Japanese transport Burma Maru in the Gulf of Thailand.

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