Thursday, September 30, 2021

June 2, 1942: German Artillery Barrage on Sevastopol

Tuesday June 2 1942

British capture supply truck in Libya, 2 June 1942
"An infantryman takes the surrender of the crew of an enemy supply truck in the Western Desert, 2 June 1942." © IWM E 12810.

Battle of the Pacific: About 350 miles (648 km) northeast of Midway Island, US Navy Task Force 16 (carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8)) joins with Task Force 17 (Yorktown (CV-5)) on 2 June 1942. Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher aboard Yorktown assumes tactical command of the entire force, with Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance in charge of TF16. 

Altogether, the three US carriers carry 234 aircraft. There also are 110 fighters, bombers (including B-17s, though six of the sixteen there are sent back to Hawaii today), and patrol planes on Midway itself, giving the US a slight numerical advantage in planes over the approaching Japanese fleet. In the waters nearby are 25 US Navy submarines. Only a few key officers on Midway know of the presence of the US carriers. The Navy pilots stationed on Midway are told not to "expect any help from the U.S. carriers; they’re off defending Hawaii."

The 11th Air Force in Alaska has been moving assets toward the Aleutian Islands in preparation for an expected Japanese invasion. Today, two PBY-5A Catalinas of the USN's Patrol Squadron Forty One (VP-41) flying out of Dutch Harbor spot the incoming invasion force. They report Japanese aircraft carriers HIJMS Ryujo and Junyo about 210 miles (644 km) away from Dutch Harbor. The Japanese on the carriers also spot the PBYs, and Zeros quickly shoot them down. One crewman is taken prisoner while the rest on the two planes perish.

Admiral Kakuta in command of the two Japanese light carriers is preparing to raid Dutch Harbor, which is now alerted. However, this is only a feint, as the invasion force is heading for islands further west in the Aleutians.

Fifth Air Force raids the Japanese base at Rabaul.

Japanese 5822-ton freighter Kofuku Maru hits a mine and sinks off Rangoon, Burma.

USS Long Island, 2 June 1942
The U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Long Island (AVG-1) moored at Naval Air Station North Island, California (USA), on 2 June 1942, shortly before she sortied with Task Force 1 (TF-1) under Vice Admiral William S. Pye. Aircraft on deck include six Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat and three Curtiss SOC-3A Seagull of Auxiliary Scouting Squadron 1 (VGS-1). Naval History and Heritage Command 80-G-31839.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: The two Japanese survivors of the attack on Sydney Harbour on 30 May 1942, Lt Akieda Saburo and PO1C Takemoto Masami, have traveled 48 miles on foot when they are intercepted and killed in a gunfight with Royal Marines Commando No. 5 at Amponkarana Bay. One Marine also is killed and four more wounded by a sword wielded by one of the Japanese. The two fleeing men were betrayed by a local in a village where they stopped to get food. I-20, submerged off Amber Bay, will wait for another 36 hours before giving up hope of picking up any of the men.

Eastern Front: Harko (Hoeheres Artillerie Kommando) 306, Eleventh Army's artillery command, gives the order today to open fire on the Red Army's Sevastopol defense with everything. And by everything, they mean everything

This includes 17-inch (420mm) GAMMA, known to the world as "Big Bertha" during World War I, and 21-inch KARL. The biggest gun of all, though, is DORA, a 31.5-inch (800mm) artillery weapon that fires a 7-ton shell and can penetrate 90 inches of steel. It has taken a month, a crane, and thousands of soldiers to get DORA ready. These artillery weapons are massive and extremely vulnerable to air attack, but they can be deployed because the Luftwaffe has complete control of the skies over Crimea. It is a one-off situation where there is no fear of retaliation and the biggest weapons ever made can just fire as many rounds as they are able (which isn't that many per day due to technical issues).

DORA at Sevastopol
DORA finally ready to fire.

The firing of 600 large artillery pieces (1300 total) controlled by Harko 306 is joined by air attacks by VIII Air Corps, concentrating on Soviet forts to the north of the port. Luftwaffe General von Richtofen awakens at 03:30 and at daybreak flies over the cloudless combat zone in his personal Fieseler Storch observation plane. He is aloft when the artillery opens fire.

VIII Air Corps has been greatly reinforced by stripping South Air Corps based in Kerch. Its planes fly from airfields at Saki, Sarabus, and Simferopol, all within 70 km of the port. The planes arrive for their first sortie of the day between 06:00 and 06:30. The area of bombardment is scheduled to shift from one area to another each day to soften up the entire Red Army line. Today's area of attack is against barracks northeast of the city and mobilization points in the villages of Schabykina and Balossowa to the southeast. At 07:00, a full attack using everything in the arsenal begins and lasts for twelve hours. All told, the Luftwaffe flies 723 sorties today and drops 525 tons of high explosives while shooting down six enemy planes. The Red Army pilots are completely outmatched, and four of their planes are shot down while they are trying to flee from Crimea to airfields in the Caucasus. The Germans only lose one Junkers Ju 87 Stuka.

DORA does not have to make many direct hits to achieve results, because every single one that does hit the target completely destroys the pillbox or fort. At Fuhrer Headquarters, General Franz Halder simply notes in his war diary, "Artillery assault of Sevastopol has started... On the whole, a day without important events or changes on the front."

While it is a quiet day at Fuhrer headquarters, Halder does have several meetings today. One of them is with Major Count Stauffenberg. They discuss issues with the troops that just won the victory southeast of Kharkov near Izyum, which includes a disturbing shortage of horses in a place where the great summer offensive is to be launched within a few weeks.
RAF Beaulieu Airfield, 2 June 1942
"Aerial photograph of Beaulieu airfield, looking north 2 June 1942. Photograph taken by No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, sortie number RAF/HLA/567. English Heritage (RAF Photography)." American Air Museum in Britain.

European Air Operations: It is a fairly quiet day on the Channel Front at first as both sides recuperate from their recent bombing missions (RAF Bomber Command to Cologne and Essen, the Luftwaffe to Canterbury). At first light, there are RAF patrols along the French coast between Gravelines and Dunkirk at 20-25,000 feet without incident. A second sweep at 09:30, however, turns into a massive dogfight over Le Touquet, where the Luftwaffe has an airbase. RAF No. 403 Squadron finds itself facing 40-50 enemy Focke Wulf 190s. The Allies (Canadians) lose six out of twelve pilots. The Luftwaffe also loses planes but seems to have gotten the better of the encounter. In a sign of the resiliency of the RAF, the six lost planes are replaced by nine new Spitfires by dinner time.

Battle of the Atlantic: In one of the more unusual events of the Battle of the Atlantic, U-213 (Oblt. Amelung von Varendorff), on its second patrol out of Lorient, spots 6826-ton Norwegian freighter Berganger southeast of Cape Cod at 03:32. Varendorff has bad luck, however, and all five torpedoes that he fires miss. However, the freighter also has very bad luck, as during the evening U-578 (KrvKpt. Ernst-August Rehwinkel), on its fourth patrol out of St. Nazaire, also spots the freighter and pumps a torpedo into the ship at 20:27. Rehwinkel then pumps a coup de grâce into the freighter, whose gunners have begun firing at his submarine. After the ship sinks Rehwinkel surfaces, questions the survivors, and takes pictures of them. There are 4 dead and 43 survivors, who occupy three lifeboats and are rescued by several different ships on 4 June.

U-156 (Kptlt. Werner Hartenstein), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes 5970-ton Brazilian freighter Alegrete between St. Lucia and St. Vincent. All 64 aboard the ship survive. This sinking is sometimes listed as happening on 1 June because it happens right around midnight on 1 June, so I mention it on both dates.

U-158 (Kptlt. Erwin Rostin), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5686-ton US freighter Knoxville City 50 miles southeast of Cape Corrientes, Cuba. There are two dead and 53 survivors. This sinking also is sometimes listed as occurring on 1 June 1942.

U-159 (Kptlt. Helmut Friedrich Witte), on its second patrol out of Lorient, sports 5403-ton U.S. transport Illinois 400 miles northwest of Puerto Rico. Witte hits the freighter with two torpedoes that cause the ship to capsize and sink within 40 seconds. The time is too short for a distress call or for the crew to launch any lifeboats. There are only six survivors and 32 dead. The survivors find a capsized lifeboat and manage to right it, then sail to the southwest until picked up on 8 June by US tanker Esso Montpelier.
Admiral Aboyneau, 2 June 1942
Free French Navy Admiral Aboyneau's barge coming alongside the Free French ship Amiens at Porsmouth for an inspection, 2 June 1942. © IWM A 8804.

U-553 (Kptlt. Karl Thurmann), on its seventh patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 6019-ton British freighter Mattawin 190 miles southeast of Nantucket. The U-boat chased the freighter for three and a half hours and missed with two torpedoes before finally having success with one (of two) at 07:18. All 71 men aboard the freighter survive, including a sailor blown off the forecastle and into the water when the torpedo hit. Thurmann fires a coup de grâce at 07.30 that sinks the ship in five minutes. The rescue of the survivors is a bit unusual in that the crews in three lifeboats turn down offers of rescue from Norwegian freighter Torvanger because it is heading to Capetown. However, the master of the vessel then discusses the matter with his own crew, who claim they are fearful of traveling independently with U-boats around. The master agrees to take the survivors to Halifax. Incidentally, the crew of the Torvanger is right to be fearful, as U-84 (Horst Uphoff) later sinks Torvanger west of the Azores while it is on its way to Capetown.

U-558 (Kptlt. Günther Krech), on its seventh patrol out of Brest, uses its deck gun because it is out of torpedoes and sinks 2078-ton Dutch freighter Triton 470 miles southeast of Bermuda. The first shot destroys the ship's stern gun and the German radio operator jams the ship's distress signals. There are 6 dead and 30 survivors, who are picked up after three days by US freighter Mormacport.

Italian submarine Da Vinci (Capt Luigi Longanesi-Cattani) uses its deck gun and torpedoes to sink 1087-ton Panamanian four-masted freighter Reine Marie Stewart 40 miles southwest of Freetown, Sierra Leone. All 11 crewmen survive after being picked up by the British freighter Afghanistan.

A Luftwaffe bomber finds 903-ton Irish freighter City of Bremen en route from Lisbon to Holyhead, Wales, and bombs it. While the City of Bremen does not sink immediately, the blast causes enough damage for the crew to abandon the ship at 23:30. Nobody sees the ship sink. Everybody survives.

Dutch 197-ton freighter Antares hits a mine and sinks. There is one death.

German 341-ton flak ship V 1510 Unitas 6 hits a sunken wreck and sinks near Dieppe in the English Channel.
British 25-pounder firing, 2 June 1942
"British 25 pounder guns fire at Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps on the night of 2 June 1942 during the battle of Gazala, Libya." © IWM E 12789.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The Axis forces resume their blockade of the French fortress at Bir Hakeim after the Free French there briefly broke it to receive badly needed supplies. The Afrika Korps begins shelling the fortress at 10:00, accompanied by attacks from Axis planes. This includes twenty attacks by Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers. The Italian Ariete division then launches an attack on the fort, which the French repel.

The British Desert Air Force also is active. It bombs the easily observed Axis forces surrounding the fortress in the desert, blowing up a lot of vehicles and leaving them burning wrecks. The Allies launch small-scale raids by the 7th Motor Brigade and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade that cause more destruction but can't end the blockade. The military draw at the fort, however, is bad news for the Free French, who are rapidly running low on essential supplies such as water.

U-652 (Oblt. Georg-Werner Fraatz), on its ninth patrol out of Pola, sustains heavy damage in the Gulf of Sollum from depth charges dropped by British Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers of RAF No. 815 Naval Air Squadron. The submarine is able to surface and the entire crew survives, but it is a total loss. U-81 (Kptlt. Friedrich Guggenberger ) happens to be nearby and torpedoes it to ensure the Allies don't come into possession of the hulk. U-652 ends its career with a total of 34,907 of Allied tonnage to its credit. After this, U-81 breaks off its own patrol and takes the survivors to Salamis.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet submarine SHCH-214 continues its string of successes against neutral Turkish vessels, sinking 100-ton sailing ship Kaynarea. It does this by ramming the sailing ship east of Rezovo, Bulgaria. Why the Soviet sub destroys so many Turkish vessels is a mystery, but there are many suspicions that Turkish war profiteers are transporting cargo in violation of neutrality.

Luftwaffe aircraft bomb and sink 836-ton Soviet transport Mikhail Gromov near Yalta while it is en route from Tuapse to Sevastopol to supply the trapped Red Army soldiers there.

German Military: Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler visits Reinhard Heydrich in the hospital at Prague. Heydrich appears to be recovering satisfactorily but is not out of the woods yet. He tells Himmler that he is ready for whatever happens, saying, "The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself. We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum."
Asahi Shimbun, 2 June 1942
An article in the Asahi Shimbun on 2 June 1942 describes "a gift from the front." Soldiers in southeast Asia have sent home this leopard for Ueno Zoological Garden, a Tokyo zoo. Captain Shigetaka Yoshimura is shown petting the leopard.

Australian Government: Apparently stung by the recent attack on Sydney Harbour, Prime Minister John Curtin defiantly says, "I defy the enemy to land large forces in Australia."

British Government: Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives a speech in the House of Commons primarily about the ongoing German attack in Libya. "From captured documents, it is clear that Rommel's object was to defeat our armored forces and capture Tobruk," he says. He gives an estimate that 260 enemy tanks have been destroyed or captured, and mentions that "we have retained control of the battlefield." Churchill also states that General Claude Auchinleck, in charge of North Africa, has complimented "the excellent performance of the American Grant tanks."

Churchill also gives a brief update on the air war, noting that "no fewer than 1,130 British-manned aircraft" attacked Cologne on the night of 30/31 May, and "1036 machines of the Royal Air Force" attacked Essen on the following night. "[T]hese two great night-bombing raids mark the introduction of a new phase in the British air offensive against Germany."

While it is all well and good for Churchill to crow about British successes, this speech also makes it quite awkward later in June when it turns out that the British in fact have not "retained control of the battlefield" and Rommel's forces capture Tobruk in a lightning assault. His government almost falls due to the heightened expectations and depressing results. To save face, Churchill has to fire Auchinleck. This shows the danger of being too overconfident and self-congratulatory. But that is looking ahead and I try not to do that too often.

American Homefront: There are 89 known US war dead today, a "quiet" day in the war.

The Western Defense Command warns citizens on the west coast to be on the alert for Japanese infiltrators wearing U.S. Army uniforms.

Veronica Lake on the cover of Look Magazine, 2 June 1942
Actress Veronica Lake on the cover of Look Magazine, 2 June 1942. 


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

June 1, 1942: Hitler at Poltava

Monday 1 June 1942

Hitler at Poltava 1 June 1942
Hitler at Poltava, 1 June 1942. From left to right: Lieutenant General Adolf Ernst Heusinger, General of the Infantry von Sodenstern, Colonel General Max Freiherr von Weichs, Adolf Hitler, General of the Panzer Force Friedrich Paulus, Colonel General Eberhard von Mackensen and Field Marshal Feodor von Bock. Federal Archive Image 183-B24543.

Battle of the Pacific: On 1 June 1942, a Japanese invasion force departs from Kashiwabara on Paramushiru Island in the Kurile Islands heading for Kiska Island in the Aleutians. Meanwhile, the US Navy sends Task Force 8.6 centered around the light cruiser USS Nashville (CL-43) to patrol 400 miles (741 km) south of Kodiak Island. The US 11th Air Force now has 12 P-40s, six B-26 bombers, and a B-17E at Otter Point on Umnak Island.

Pursuant to Admiral Nimitz's orders, aircraft carrier Saratoga sails from San Diego for Pearl Harbor following repair of torpedo damage suffered on 11 January 1942 and some modernization. It carries 14 Wildcats of VF-2 Detachment and 23 Dauntlesses of VS-3, along with four Wildcats, 43 Dauntlesses, and 14 Avengers as cargo. The cargo aircraft are carried as future replacements for aircraft expected to be lost at Midway Island by carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown.

Five Japanese submarines (I-21, I-22, I-24, I-27, and I-29) lie off Port Hacking, Australia, waiting for the crewmen of the mini-submarines that attacks Sydney Harbour on 31 May to reach their rendezvous point. The men never arrive, having all been killed either during the attack or afterward.

The US Fifth Air Force sends B-17s to attack the Japanese base at Rabaul, while others raid Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea.
Hitler at Poltava 1 June 1942
Hitler driving from the airfield to his meeting with the leaders of Army Group South in Poltava, Ukraine, 1 June 1942.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: Following their successful mini-sub attack on the British fleet at Diego Suarez, Madagascar, two Japanese sailors (Lt Akieda Saburo and PO1C Takemoto Masami) have abandoned their mini-sub at Nosy Antalikely (Antali Keli) islet. Having gotten to the mainland on the boat of some friendly locals, they are proceeding on foot to the pickup point at Cape Amber. Hungry, they stop at a village, Anijabe village, to buy some food. They obtain the food from the friendly locals, but one of them contacts the British in hopes of getting a reward.

Japanese submarine I-10 launches its "Glen" seaplane for a reconnaissance mission over Diego Suarez, Madagascar. Even though this is the third straight day of such flights, the British do not notice it.

The US 10th Air Force raids the Rangoon dockyards with five bombers. The bomber crews claim to sink one tanker and damage another.  
Hitler at Poltava 1 June 1942
Adolf Hitler, center, greets soldiers after getting off of his Focke Wulf Fw 200 Kondor at Poltava airfield, 1 June 1942.

Eastern Front: Adolf Hitler makes a rare visit to Army Group Center headquarters at Poltava in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. He is there to discuss the upcoming Case Blue with Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. Hitler flies in at 9 a.m. and is gone by noon. Afterward, everyone is a little mystified why he visited, but Hitler shows a bit of wanderlust in early June 1942, flying to Poltava, then to Finnland to wish Marshal Mannerheim a happy 75th birthday, and then down to Berchtesgaden for a holiday. This is the first of Hitler's two visits to Poltava, the second being on 3 July.

These visits accomplish nothing that could not also be done via simple teletype messages and phone calls. However, they serve Hitler's purposes in terms of reminding the generals and soldiers at the front who is really in charge. They also serve as good propaganda tools to show the same thing to the German public. Hitler fully expects Case Blau to be a resounding victory and the final German triumph over the USSR, so he wants to be seen prominently at the point of its inception.

At Sevastopol, General von Manstein's 11th Army bombards the Soviet holdouts throughout the day. He is preparing to finally take the port. The Red Army troops know they have no hope of relief and Stalin has not authorized a withdrawal using ships.

The action is heating up in the air over Sevastopol, too. II./JG 77's Lt. Ludwig-Wilhelm Burckhardt is shot down near enemy lines while flying an escort mission for Generaloberst Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen's Fiesler Storch. He crash-lands near the Soviet lines, gets out of the plane, and runs for his life from advancing Soviet infantry. Burckhardt barely survives and makes it back to German lines but gets chewed out by his commander, Major Gordon Gollob, for not destroying his Bf 109 before leaving.

Back at Fuhrer Headquarters, General Franz Halder simply writes "Unchanged" in his war diary, adding "The mopping-up operation in the rear of Fourth Army [anti-partisan operation Hannover] is making good progress." Halder talks to General Hoth, the new commander of the 4th Panzer Army, about his role in Case Blue.
Hitler at Poltava 1 June 1942
Adolf Hitler exits his Focke-Wulf 200 in Poltava, Ukraine, 1 June 1942.

European Air Operations: German flak batteries at Ostend down an RAF Spitfire. The Belgian pilot survives two days and three nights in his dinghy before being picked up by the Germans and imprisoned.

RAF Bomber Command takes a rest after two major raids on consecutive nights, one against Cologne and the other over Essen. It considers the Cologne raid a success although the RAF lost 40 bombers. The Essen raid by 956 bombers, however, achieved little due to poor bombing accuracy.

Fires rage in Canterbury, England, after the latest "Baedeker Blitz" attack by the Luftwaffe.

 Lt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer of NJG 1 gets his first victory during the Essen raid. He will become known as "The Night Ghost of St. Trond."

Battle of the Baltic: German 981-ton freighter Malmö hits a mine in the Drogden area of the Skagerrak and sinks in Øresund southwest of Malmö, Sweden. On 8 August 1942, a Danish salvage company raises it, brings it to Copenhagen, repairs it, and returns it to service. It survives the war.

Hitler at Poltava 1 June 1942
Hitler arrives at the headquarters of Army Group South, 1 June 1942.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-156 torpedoes and sinks 5970-ton Brazilian freighter Alegrete between St. Lucia and St. Vincent. The attack is made after dark at 23:51, making the (neutral) Brazilian flag difficult to see. The crew quickly abandons ship and the U-boat uses its deck gun to send it under by 03:00 on the 2nd. All 64 on the freighter survive, with three lifeboats making landfall in Trinidad and Venezuela and the fourth being rescued by USS Tarbell (DD 142).

U-158 (Kptlt. Erwin Rostin), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 5686-ton US freighter Knoxville City near the Isle of Pines and 50 miles southeast of Cape Corrientes, Cuba. This sinking is sometimes listed as having sunk early in the morning on 2 June. A torpedo strikes the engine room, killing two men instantly and stopping the ship. After an hour the ship is still afloat, so Rostin fires another torpedo that sinks it. Aside from the two men in the engine room, all 53 other crewmen survive. The crew's story is a little unusual because a Brazilian freighter, Jamaica, stops and asks the men in the boats if they want to be rescued, but they decline because they fear that this ship will be torpedoed, too. They ultimately make landfall in La Calina, Cuba, after 48 hours.

U-106 (Kptlt. Hermann Rasch), on its sixth patrol out of Lorient, sinks 2689-ton US freighter Hampton Roads northwest of Cape San Antonio, Cuba. Rasch fires two warning shots with his deck gun, causing the freighter to stop. He waits for the crew to disembark, then fires one torpedo that sinks the ship. Five men remain on board and perish, but the other 23 men take to the boats and are picked up seven hours later by Alcoa Pathfinder.

U-404 (Kptlt. Otto von Bülow), on its third patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and sinks 5492-ton US freighter West Notus 320 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The U-boat chases the ship for two hours and 45 minutes, using its deck gun and scoring about 20 hits in 55 shots. The crew is unable to send a distress call because one of the first shells destroys the radio. Finally, one of the shots disables the steering, causing the ship to sail in circles. The crew abandons ship after firing some rounds with a machine gun that causes minor damage to the U-boat. The U-boat then surfaces, questions the men, gives them some Perrier mineral water bottles, and directs them to Cape Hatteras. The burning freighter, meanwhile, takes a long time to sink, so in an unusual move, von Bülow sends a party on board to plant scuttling charges. There are four dead and 36 survivors, who are picked up after a couple of days by two separate freighters (Greek Constantinos H. and Swiss Saentis).

U-566 (Kptlt. Dietrich Borchert), on its fifth patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and later uses gunfire to sink 9512-ton British freighter Westmoreland northeast of Bermuda 240 miles northeast of Bermuda. The ship takes a long time to sink, and remains afloat even after a coup de grâce torpedo is used, so Borchert surfaces and uses the deck gun to sink it after a five-hour ordeal. There are three dead and 65 survivors, who are picked up by two different freighters (Canadian Cathcart and U.S. Henry R. Mallory). This is U-566's only victory on this patrol.

Some sources place the sinking of 4536-ton Panamian freighter Bushranger today by U-107, but others do so on 31 May 1942, so I covered it there.

Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 87 Stuka bombers sink 6850-ton British freighter Empire Starlight in Murmansk Harbor. The Soviets refloat and repair it in 1945, renaming the freighter Murmansk. The planes also sink 235-ton Soviet freighter Subbotnik in the harbor, with eight dead.
USS Juneau, 1 June 1942
The U.S. Navy light cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52). "Photographed off New York City, 1 June 1942. She has a barge alongside her starboard quarter. Her superstructure retains its original camouflage scheme, but her hull has been repainted to a different pattern." Juneau will be sunk on 13 November 1942 at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal with the loss of 687, including the five Sullivan brothers. Naval History & Heritage Command 19-N-31264.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Following heavy Stuka attacks on British defenders of the 150th Infantry Brigade at the Sidi Muftah box (Got el Ualeb, due west of Tobruk), German soldiers of the Afrika Korps resume their attack west against them that began on the 31st of May. The British Eighth Army attempts to relieve the embattled soldiers, without success. Fierce fighting continues throughout the day into the early afternoon, when the last British soldiers surrender. The Germans claim 3000 prisoners, the destruction of 101 tanks and armored cars, and the capture or destruction of 124 artillery pieces. 

This enables the Germans to make contact with the Italian X Corps, advancing through the minefield from the west. This Axis victory clears two desperately needed pathways through the British minefields to the west so that supplies can be trucked in by the Italian Ariete and Trieste divisions.

Spy Stuff: The Wehrmacht begins a secret disinformation campaign, Operation Kreml (Kremlin). Working on the assumption that the Red Army has sources within the German army, Operation Kreml involves a phony plan by Army Group Center to mount a large-scale offensive to capture Moscow. The plan is put in motion today with the Army Group's distribution down to the regimental level of sealed maps of Moscow with instructions not to open them until 10 June, when meetings to discuss the offensive will be held. In fact, the only Wehrmacht offensive planned for the summer is the one in the south, Case Blau. Kreml is a classic misdirection counterintelligence operation.
Hermann Goering as shown in Time Magazine, 1 June 1942
A photo of Hermann Goering in the 1 June 1942 issue of Time Magazine.

German Military: Generals Hermann Hoth of 17th Army and Richard Ruoff of 4th Panzer Army switch commands. Hoth is considered a top panzer general is tasked with preparing the 4th Panzer Army for its critical role in the upcoming Case Blue offensive into southern USSR toward Stalingrad.

Oblt. Heinrich Kraft of 8./JG 51 becomes Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 51.

US Military: Headquarters, United States Army Northern Ireland Force and Headquarters, V Corps (both commanded by MG Hartle) transfer from Wilmont House to Lurgan. Meanwhile, the Headquarters of Northern Ireland Base Command (Provisional) is activated at Wilmont House under the command of BG Leroy P. Collins.

Brazilian Homefront: Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CRVD) is founded in Itabira, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It is a metals and mining corporation that eventually evolves into Vale S.A., one of the most valuable companies in Latin America. It is also is controversial due to its impact on the environment and various accidents resulting in deaths and injuries.
Time magazine, with Chiang Kai-shek on the cover, 1 June 1942
Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek on the cover of Time magazine, 1 June 1942.

Holocaust: Carl Oberg officially takes up his post as Higher SS and Police Leader (Höherer SS-und Polizeiführer, HSSPF) "Frankreich" (France) with authority over German police and security forces in France, including the SD and the Gestapo. Oberg now is the ultimate authority in France for anti-partisan operations and Holocaust activities. He will earn the nickname "Butcher of Paris." 

Reinhard Heydrich accompanied Oberg to his new post in France in early May (before the Heydrich assassination attack on 27 May). Already, even before his official installation, Oberg has instituted the policy of requiring Jews in Paris to wear a yellow badge. One of Oberg's defining characteristics will be ordering mass executions of hostages as reprisals for Resistance activities.

American Homefront: The Grand Coulee Dam, which has been under construction since the ceremonial driving of the first stake on 16 July 1933, opens on the Columbia River. The reservoir fills completely and the first waters overtop the spillway. Over 21,000 acres (85 square km) of land have been flooded

The dam's first generator has been in operation since January 1941. Getting the dam into full operation is a very slow and gradual process, with the last of its 18 generators not being switched on until 1950. The total cost of the dam in 2020 dollars: $2 billion.

Future History: Thomas Frank Mankiewicz is born in Los Angeles, California. The son of Joseph Mankiewicz and nephew of Herman Mankiewicz, both power players in Hollywood, Tom Mankiewicz goes on to become an American screenwriter, director, and producer of motion pictures and television. His most famous credits include "Superman: The Movie" (1978) and some James Bond films, including "Live and Let Die" (1973). Tom Mankiewicz was famous within Hollywood insider circles as a "script doctor" brought in to "fix" shaky movie scripts. He passes away in Los Angeles on 31 July 2010 from pancreatic cancer.

Cecil Randolph Hundley Jr. is born in Martinsville, Virginia. He becomes a top catcher, particularly defensively, in Major League Baseball from 1964-1977. He is most famous for playing with the Chicago Cubs. His son, Todd, also becomes a Major Leaguer. Hundley originated the idea of baseball "fantasy camps," where fans get to play with former pros. He apparently still operates some as of this writing in 2021.

Fernando Atzori is born in Ales, Province of Oristano, Italy. He goes on to become a champion boxer before retiring in 1975. He passes away on 9 November 2020.
Life magazine with Hedy Lamarr on the cover, 1 June 1942
Life magazine, 1 June 1942, with actress Hedy Lamarr on the cover.

May 1942


Sunday, September 26, 2021

May 31, 1942: The Attack on Sydney Harbour

Sunday 31 May 1942

Sydney Harbour mini-sub attack 31 May 1942
A Japanese mini-sub that entered Sydney Harbour on the night of 31 May 1942 but got caught in netting. The crew, unable to escape, scuttled it with themselves inside (Gordon Short, The Sydney Morning Herald).

Battle of the Pacific: After dark on 31 May 1942, three Japanese Kō-hyōteki-class mini-submarines, (M-14, M-21, and M-24) and their two-man crews enter Sydney Harbour, Australia. Only one of the subs, M-24, makes a successful attack, firing its two torpedoes to sink converted ferry HMAS Kuttabul (21 dead, 19 Australians and 2 British). The M-24 crew then attempts to exit the harbor only to wreck off Sydney's Northern Beaches at Bungan Head (sub discovered in 2006).

This begins a two-week-long campaign by the "mother" submarines to disrupt shipping in the area, during which they sink three ships and kill 50 sailors. The "Attack on Sydney Harbour," which includes submarines shelling Sydney and Newcastle on 8 June 1942, is the only time those cities have been attacked.
B-17E taking off at Midway, 31 May 1942
"U.S. Army Air Force Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress bombers of the 431st Bombardment Squadron take off from the airfield on Eastern Island, Midway Atoll, on the afternoon of 31 May 1942. The plane in the center is an early-model B-17E-BO (s/n 41-2397), with a Bendix remotely controlled belly turret, flown by 1st Lt. Kinney." Naval History and Heritage Command USAF-22635-AC.

In the Central Pacific, both Japanese and US carriers are converging on Midway Island. The Japanese intend to invade, but they don't know the US Navy has discovered their plans and is lying in wait. The sides are roughly equal, with four Japanese fleet carriers opposing three US fleet carriers and land aircraft based on Midway. At Midway, B-17 bombers begin flying search operations looking for the Japanese ships. These searches, which include PBY Catalinas, focus on the seas to the north.

Admiral Nimitz is not taking any chances regarding the outcome of the upcoming confrontation at Midway. He already has ordered his only reserve aircraft carrier, USS Saratoga, to complete its repairs at San Diego and head to Pearl Harbor ASAP. Today, the navy shifts two battleships, Colorado and Maryland, to San Francisco to protect the west coast in case of a Japanese breakthrough.

US Navy submarine USS Pollack (SS-180) torpedoes and sinks Japanese auxiliary submarine chaser Shunsei Maru No. 5 off Murotosan, Japan.

B-17s of the 5th Air Force attack Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea.

Australian ship sunk in Sydney Harbour, 31 May 1942
Australian Navy depot ship (former ferry Kuttabul) sunk by a Japanese mini-submarine in Sydney Harbour on the night of 31 May 1942 (Gordon Short, The Sydney Morning Herald). 

Battle of the Indian Ocean: As one group of Japanese mini-subs attacks Sydney Harbour, another group has been attacking Royal Navy warships at Diego Suarez, Madagascar. Having blown a 30x30 foot hole in battleship HMS Ramillies and sunk freighter British Loyalty, the two subs exit the bay and head northwest. M-16b is lost and never found, while M-20b - the one that made the attacks - winds up beached at Nosy Antalikely (Antali Keli) islet after its battery runs out. The two crewmen receive help from friendly locals, make it to the mainland, and head for their recovery area at Cape Amber on foot.

With their cover blown, Japanese submarine I-10 launches its "Glen" seaplane for the second day in a row to fly over Diego Suarez. The British, oblivious, fail to notice.
Australian ship sunk in Sydney Harbour, 31 May 1942
Kuttabul lying on the bottom in Sydney Harbour after being torpedoed on 31 May 1942.

Eastern Front: The front has settled down since the German victory southeast of Kharkov, where the victors are busy counting prisoners. At Fuhrer Headquarters in East Prussia, General Franz Halder comments about the upcoming Case Blue that "Build-up is proceeding according to plan."

The Germans have another big opportunity to the north, where large Soviet forces are essentially trapped on the wrong side of the Volkhov River. Halder comments, "The enemy's intention to pull out of the Volkhov bulge is now quite obvious; not clear about Pogostye bulge."

What Halder doesn't know is that General Lieutenant A. A. Vlasov, commander of the 2nd Shock Army in the bulge, has repeatedly asked for permission to retreat but has been denied. Now, Vlasov's army is so weak that it doesn't matter whether he is allowed to retreat or not. Vlasov is preparing a final, desperate breakout at Myasnoi Bor that will decide the fate of his army.
HMS Highlander at sea, 31 May 1942
British destroyer HMS Highlander at sea, 31 May 1942 (© IWM FL 1984).

European Air Operations: While Cologne recovers from the stunning 1000-plane RAF Bomber Command raid of 30/31 May, the British try again with a massive raid against Essen. This one, however, achieves little in comparison to the firestorm created at Cologne.

The de Haviland Mosquito bomber makes its operational debut today. Four of the bombers of RAF No. 105 Squadron visit Cologne to drop a few more bombs and take some reconnaissance photos.

The Luftwaffe retaliates for the Cologne raid with a "Baedecker Raid" against Canterbury. It causes large fires that lead to heavy damage.
Artist depiction of RAF attack on Cologne, 31 May 1942
Mass bomber raid on Cologne (The National Archives UK, artist unknown).

Battle of the Atlantic: The final six ships of Convoy PQ-16 make port in Archangel, ending the convoy. PQ-16 lost eight ships, six to air attack, one to a mine, and one to U-703. Despite the losses, the Allies consider the convoy a success because of the badly needed war supplies brought to the Soviet Union. It also includes Heavy Lift Ships including SS Empire Elgar that remain in the USSR to facilitate convoy unloading for 14 months.

U-107 (Kptlt. Harald Gelhaus), on its sixth patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 4536-ton Panamanian freighter Bushranger west of Jamaica. This sinking is sometimes said to have occurred on 1 June, as different accounts have the torpedo hitting before or after midnight on the 31st. There are 17 dead and 26 survivors, who are picked up on 12 June by UCGS USS Nike.

U-506 (Kptlt. Erich Würdemann)g, on its second patrol out of Lorient, gets its final victory of a patrol during which it has sunk eight ships of 39,906 tons and damaged three more of 23,358 tons. This victim is 2292-ton British freighter Fred W. Greene, which sinks 200 miles southeast of Bermuda. The ship is carrying 725 tons of military stores and general cargo, including 48 motor trucks, construction equipment, beer, cigarettes, and 48 bags of mail. Würdemann has to use his deck gun because he is out of torpedoes. There are five dead and 36 survivors, who are picked up on the 1st by two different US destroyers, Bernadou (DD 153) and Ludlow (DD 438).

U-432 (Kptlt. Heinz-Otto Schultze), on its fifth patrol out of La Pallice, torpedoes and sinks 1188-ton Canadian freighter Liverpool Packet 15 miles west of Seal Island (near Cape Sable), Nova Scotia. There are two deaths and 19 survivors, who make it to shore in their lifeboat at Seal Island.

Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini torpedoes and sinks 8214-ton British tanker Dinsdale southwest of St. Paul Rocks off Brazil. There are thirteen deaths.

Comandante Cappellini also torpedoes and sinks 8214-ton British Royal Fleet Auxiliary RFA Dinsdale northeast of Pernambuco. There are five dead and 52 survivors.
British anti-tank gun in North Africa, 31 May 1942
Truck-mounted 6-pdr anti-tank gun in the Western Desert, 31 May 1942.

Battle of the Mediterranean: With German General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps having pulled back into a defensive position called "The Cauldron," the battle along the Gazala Line has entered a new phase. The key factor for both sides is supplies for thirsty men and tanks. To solve this problem, Rommel sends the 90th Light Division and the Italian Trieste Division to assault the British 150th Infantry Brigade blocking the supplies in the 'Sidi Muftah box." The attack, launched in the morning, continues throughout the day, making good progress but not breaking through the British defenders.

In Rome, General Albert Kesselring is tired of having the British sink his supply ships to Rommel. Today, he submits a plan to invade Malta to the Italian Commando Supremo. However, the ultimate decision rests with Hitler, and he isn't ready to repeat a Crete-style invasion.
The Arizona Daily Star, 31 May 1942
The Arizona Daily Star for 31 May 1942 headlines the previous day's Memorial Day celebrations. Off to the side is a column about the British counterattack against Rommel in Libya.

On the Allied side, the supply situation of the Free French holding out at the fortress of Bir Hakeim is alleviated when fifty supply trucks of the 101st Transport Company break through the German encirclement. A French raid from the fort destroys five tanks and a German armored vehicle repair shop. In the air overhead, things do not go as well for the Allies. They lose fifteen fighters and a bomber, their worst losses of the battle, to nine Luftwaffe losses. 

British submarine HMS Proteus and Taku torpedo and badly damage 6836-ton Italian freighter Gino Allegri about 80 miles west of Benghazi. The ship remains afloat until finished off by RAF aircraft.

HMS Proteus also torpedoes and sinks 1571-ton Italian freighter Bravo northwest of Benghazi.

Obfw. Erich Krenzke of 6./JG 27 is captured after he is forced to crash-land his Bf 109F-4 behind British lines near Acroma and El Adem. He finishes his career with eight victories.
Fascist hikers in France, 31 May 1942
An Italian hiking group organized by the Fascists in Mulhouse, France, hike through Upper Alsace, 31 May 1942 (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archive Image 212-357)

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet submarine SHCH-214 shells and sinks 85-ton Turkish sailing ship Mahbubdihan northeast of Cape Igneada, Turkey.

US Military: US ration strength in Northern Ireland as of this date is 32,202, including 1626 officers, 102 nurses, 16 warrant officers, and 30,458 enlisted men.

American Homefront: Golfer Sam Snead, known as "Slammin' Sammy Snead," wins the PGA Championship at Seaview Country Club in Galloway Township, New Jersey. It is the first of what become seven major titles. Immediately after this event, which is the last major championships held until 1944, Snead joins the US Navy and serves in it for the remainder of World War II. Following his honorable discharge, Snead resumes winning tournaments (a record 82 PGA Tour events) until he retires in 1987. As of this writing, Snead remains tied for the most lifetime PGA Tour events won.
Bomb damage in Cologne from raid of 30/31 May 1942
Bomb damage in Cologne city center from the May 30/31 RAF 1000-plane raid. This is Unter Goldschmied (Federal Archive Picture 121-1334).

May 1942


May 30, 1942: First RAF Thousand-Plane Raid

Saturday 30 May 1942

Operation Millenium 30 May 1942
Cologne Cathedral illuminated during Operation Millenium, 30-31 May 1942.

Battle of the Pacific: Having spent 72 hours in drydock, during which its flight deck was patched and whole sections of internal frame were replaced, USS Yorktown (Task Force 17) departs Pearl Harbor on 30 May 1942 to join Enterprise and Hornet near Midway Island. Repairmen from repair ship Vestal, damaged on 7 December 1941, remain on the ship and continue to work as it sails. Yorktown's depleted air group is replenished with units from aircraft carrier Saratoga, which is under repair in San Diego. The carriers plan to rendezvous northeast of Midway.

Admiral Nimitz, meanwhile, has not forgotten about Saratoga. Today, he orders Captain Ramsey to sail from San Diego as soon as possible even if not 100% ready for action. The 7th Air Force dispatches six B-17 bombers from Hawaii to Midway to reinforce the 15 already there.

The Japanese invasion fleet bound for Midway already is at sea. Today, a task force of two light aircraft carriers and two troop transport ships departs from northern Honshu for the Aleutian Islands part of the plan.

The US 11th Air Force based in Alaska brings a new airfield at Umnak, Aleutian Islands, into operation with B-26 bombers of the 77th Bombardment Squadron (Medium).

Japanese patrol planes approach the French Frigate Shoals, but they spot two US Navy ships anchored there and are forced to turn back. Their mission was to rendezvous with a submarine there, refuel, and fly reconnaissance over Pearl Harbor. This is now impossible and the Japanese do not find out with certainty that the US Navy carriers have left. The US ships are stationed at the shoals because they know the Japanese have used them in the past as transit points for bombing missions against Hawaii.

US Navy submarine Pompano  (SS-181) torpedoes and sinks Japanese troop transport Atsuta Maru in the East China Sea east of Okinawa. There are 39 crew and 37 passengers killed. Pompano escapes a depth charge attack by the transport's destroyer escort.

Pix magazine 30 May 1942
Pix magazine, 30 May 1942.

Battle of the Indian Ocean: Two Japanese submarines (I-16 and I-20) stationed about ten miles off Diego Suarez, Madagascar, launch mini-subs to penetrate the harbor. Both subs make it into the harbor, which the British have left unguarded despite having spotted a Japanese floatplane on the 29th. At 17:10, the I-20 mini-sub M-20b (Lt. Akieda Saburo) launches a torpedo that hits Royal Navy battleship HMS Ramillies. The torpedo blows a 30x30 foot hole in the port bulge forward of "A" turret. This cuts off the entire ship's electrical system and floods the forward magazines and shell rooms.

Saburo is not done yet. He and the other sub remain in the harbor and, at 21:20, Saburo fires his second and last torpedo, which sinks 6,993-ton tanker British Loyalty in 65 feet of water (later raised and used as a hulk at Addu Atoll, Maldives). The subs remain in the harbor until the 31st.

B-17 bombers of the 10th Air Force again bomb the airfield at Myitkyina, Burma. This is the last attack against this target for the time being. 

Eastern Front: The final, weak Soviet attempts to break out of the encirclement southeast of Kharkov end today. Less than 10% of the trapped men have managed to escape. The Germans march the roughly 250,000 (the exact number is a matter of scholarly debate) Red Army prisoners in long columns through Kharkov and then on to prison camps. At Fuhrer Headquarters in East Prussia, General Franz Halder notes in his war diary "All fronts equally quiet. On the Volkhov, the access to the bulge has been narrowed down."

The loss of the Kharkov battle irreparably destroys Marshal Semyon Timoshenko's military reputation. Stalin will replace him as commander of the Stalingrad Front on 22 July 1942 with Vasily Gordov. Thereafter, Timoshenko will be given only one more command before being basically cashiered.

Boeing B17F 30 May 1942
The Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress makes its first flight at Boeing Field, Seattle, on 30 May 1942. This is a new series of B-17 bombers that incorporated 400 improvements learned from missions to date in the war. 

European Air Operations: After a lengthy period of preparation, RAF Bomber Command launches Operation Millenium at dusk. It sends over 1000 bombers to raid Cologne, the first 1000-plane raid of the war. The main targets are the city's chemical and machine-tool factories. The planes drop 1455 tons of bombs and incendiaries during a 90-minute attack. The firestorm kills 469 people and leaving 45,000 homeless.

Hermann Goering is having dinner at Veldenstein Castle when he gets a call from Josef Grohe, the Gauleiter of Cologne. During Grohe's explanation of the severity of the attack, Goering calls him a liar and hangs up. Soon after, another call comes in - this time from Adolf Hitler, who is in Berlin and has heard the same reports. Goering assures Hitler that at most 70 bombers attacked. When Goering learns later that air and flak defenses claim to have shot down 40 bombers, he claims it was a great defensive victory. Another 116 RAF bombers are damaged.

Winston Churchill, meanwhile, knows exactly how many bombers were sent - 1046 planes - and announces to the press that it was over 1000. Hitler, speaking to an aide, comments to an aide:
It is out of the question that only seventy or eighty bombers attacked. I never capitulate to an unpleasant truth. I must see clearly if I am to draw the proper conclusions.
Aside from the devastation to the city, the raid begins a rift between Hitler and Goering that only grows with time.

During an RAF Coastal Command patrol off Terschelling, the planes bomb and sink 2956-ton Swedish ore carrier Värmdö in the North Sea off Den Helder, North Holland. The ship was carrying ore to Rotterdam. There are seven deaths.

A German flak ship shoots down an RAF Hudson III (AM842) out of North Coates during a convoy attack in the Waddenzee, South of Schiermonnikoog. All four crewmen perish.

German flak ship that shot down an RAF bomber on 30 May 1942
The crew of a German flak ship showing off the wheel of an RAF Hudson III they shot down on 30 May 1942.

Battle of the Baltic: German 1354-ton freighter Orkan hits a mine laid by Soviet submarine Lembit and sinks near Greifswalder Oie, Swinemunde. Casualties are unknown.

Battle of the Atlantic: Having lost seven ships to air raids, Convoy PQ 16 makes port in Murmansk (eight ships continue on to Archangelsk and reach that port safely). The Luftwaffe sends Junkers Ju 88 bombers of  II./KG 30 against the Murmansk-bound ships, and during these attacks Hero of the Soviet Union Leonid Ivanovich Rodionov is shot down and killed after claiming two planes himself.

German auxiliary cruiser Michel (HSK-9), operating in the South Atlantic, spots 6800-ton US Liberty ship George Clymer. The Liberty ship is stopped with engine trouble and makes an easy target. The raider hits the ship with two torpedoes (actually, it launches a motor torpedo boat that scores the hits), but is then chased off by nearby Royal Navy AMC Alcantara (which doesn't see Michel and assumes it was torpedoed by a U-boat). The George Clymer is so badly damaged that the crew has to abandon it, and Alcantara later scuttles it on 6 July 1942. Everybody survives.

U-404 (Kptlt. Otto von Bülow), on its third patrol out of Brest, torpedoes and sinks 5491-ton US freighter Alcoa Shipper 500 miles east of Cape Charles, Virginia. The lookouts on the freighter spot the U-boat well before the attack, but evasive maneuvers do not prevent a torpedo strike. The ship, carrying 8340 tons of bauxite ore, sinks within five minutes. The U-boat surfaces after the sinking, questions the men in their lifeboat, and leaves them bottles of rum, cigarettes, and a pair of dungarees for a sailor who was undressed. There are seven dead and 25 survivors, who are picked up just over two days later by Norwegian freighter Margrethe Bakke.

An unidentified submarine torpedoes and sinks the 2161-ton Norwegian freighter Baghdad east of Martinique. The ship sinks within minutes. There are nine deaths and 21 survivors. U-155 (KrvKpt. Adolf Cornelius Piening), on its sixth patrol out of Lorient, is usually credited with this sinking, but some records indicate that it was still in port at Lorient on this date.

German 1592-ton minesweeper Sperrbrecher-166 Schirmeck sinks after a collision with training ship Obra. The ship apparently is refloated and returned to service.

French 288-ton trawler Edmond René is lost off Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais, of unknown causes (perhaps a mine).

Sperrbrecher 166, sunk on 30 May 1942
Sperrbrecher 166, sunk on 30 May 1942 after a collision but refloated and repaired.

Battle of the Mediterranean: In Libya, the Axis offensive is struggling. German General Erwin Rommel, low on supplies and facing determined Free French resistance at the fortress of Bir Hakeim, pulls back the leading tanks of the Afrika Korps to the west. This forms a defensive perimeter, dubbed "The Cauldron," that is protected by British minefields on its western side.

Rommel sends some brave men through the minefield to make contact with Italian X Corps to the west and open a supply lane. These troops run into the British 150th Brigade at the "Sidi Muftah box" and destroy it early on the 31st to establish a connection with the Italian Corps. Meanwhile, fierce battles erupt near Bir Hakeim as the French attempt to close the supply lane there opened through the minefield on the 29th, while the Germans attempt to defend it.

The Germans previously captured 620 soldiers of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade but, unable to watch over them, simply let them loose in the desert. These men make it to the Bir Hakeim fortress today. This only adds to the French supply issues, especially of water. 

British submarine HMS Proteus torpedoes and sinks 1571-ton Italian freighter Bravo in the Gulf of Sidra. Casualties are unknown.

British 72-ton utility tug HMS St. Angelo hits a mine off Grand Harbour, Malta, and blows up. There are at least four deaths.

Colonial League Day in Munich on 30 May 1942
Colonial Union day in Munich, at which Governor of Bavaria Franz Ritter von Epp gives a speech (Denzel, Federal Archive Image 146-2008-0172).

Partisans: Félix Otto Cadras, a leading French partisan and communist (participating in organizing the National Front partisan organization), is executed by a German firing squad at Fort Mont-Valérien, Paris, along with Arthur Dallidet, Louis Salomon, and Jacques Decour. These executions are in reprisal for an attempted assassination at Le Havre on 23 May 1942. Cadras will be made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by a decree of 17 January 1961, and a school and a street are named after him.

Allied Relations: RAF Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles F Portal and Lieutenant General Henry H "Hap" Arnold, Commanding General USAAF, meet to discuss the basing of US planes in Great Britain. Arnold's plan calls for 66 combat groups and additional observation squadrons by March 1943.

American Homefront: It is Memorial Day in the United States.

Attempting to evade being sent to an intern camp, Fred Korematsu has had plastic surgery on his eyelids. However, today he is arrested on a street corner in San Leandro, California. He will begin a court case, Korematsu vs. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), that reaches the US Supreme Court. It upholds the exclusion of those of Japanese ancestry from the US West Coast. The conviction is overturned in a case filed in 1983 and disavowed by the Supreme Court in Trump vs. Hawaii (2018), though this latter opinion is not binding, being merely dictum.

USS Runner is launched, 30 May 1942
Launching of submarine Runner, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, United States, 30 May 1942 (US Navy).

May 1942