Friday, May 25, 2018

August 5, 1941: Soviets Surrender at Smolensk


Tuesday 5 August 1941

A Finnish soldier advances past a burning Soviet tank, apparently a BT-7, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Finnish soldier advances past a burning Soviet tank, apparently a BT-7. 5 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

Eastern Front: While the Wehrmacht retains the initiative throughout the Soviet Union as of 5 August 1941, casualties are mounting. Virtually every active division has thousands of casualties, some topping 4,000 men (out of a full strength of 17,000). The OKH requires 24 trains a day just to maintain daily supplies to the troops, but only 18 make the trip on average. Of course, Soviet losses are high as well. Aside from the many divisions captured in the large encirclements, Soviet divisions still in the field have been whittled down in some cases to fewer than 2000 men. The Soviets, however, have large reserves, while the Germans keep a much higher proportion of their total strength at the front.

In the Far North sector, Finnish troops continue advancing east toward Kestenga and the Murmansk railroad. At Petsamo, Finnish authorities take control of the very valuable Petsamo Nickel Company, a major source of nickel that the Germans badly need.

In the Army Group North sector, German 18th Army (Colonel General Georg von Kuchler) approaches the Narva River and is besieging Tallinn. The Army Group has a line running from Kingisepp running south just east of Staraya Russa and Kholm and then linking up with Army Group Center's 9th Army at Velikiye Luki.

Soviet POWs, 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet troops captured during 1941.

In the Army Group Center sector, Soviet 16th and 20th armies in the "Smolensk pocket" (which isn't actually in Smolensk) surrender. About 310,000 Soviet go into captivity along with their 3200 tanks and 3100 guns. Marshal Timoshenko assembles a sketchy new defensive line about 20 miles east of Smolensk.

German infantry released by the end of Soviet resistance at Smolensk immediately move forward to replace the 10th Panzer Division and Das Reich Motorized Division at Yelnya. The two German armored divisions are exhausted after having defended this "lightning rod" salient. The Soviets know that Yelnya is a key location because it controls a crossing over the Desna River and an east-west rail station.

General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 continues to battle Soviet 28th Army near Roslavl, which the Germans capture. The Soviets have about 35,000 troops trapped there with little hope of escape.

In the Army Group South sector, Romanian 4th Army (Lieutenant-general Nicolae Ciupercă) and German 11th Army approach the port of Odessa on the Black Sea. Today generally is accepted as the first day of the defense of Odessa. Romanian leader Ion Antonescu has been promised control over the entire region between the Dniester and the Bug rivers, but he has to occupy it first. The Soviets in Odessa have orders to make a last stand there - which means there will be no evacuation by sea. At Kiev, Soviet 5th Army counterattacks German 6th Army with little effect.

Sergeant Toivo Manninen, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
On 5 August 1941, Sergeant Toivo Manninen leads an attack on the "hill of death" west of Kiesting on the southern shore of Lake Saarijärvi  He takes command of his platoon after the leader is killed. Despite suffering an injury from a landmine that seriously damages his foot, Manninen struggles forward on one foot to lead his men to capture the objective. For his pains today, Manninen earns the Knight of the Mannerheim Cross No.100, awarded September 17, 1942, by Lieutenant-General Hjalmar Siilasvuo .

European Air Operations: During the day, the RAF sends 20 Blenheim bombers on Rhubarb sweeps across Cherbourg, the River Scheldt, and the Frisian Islands. A Circus Operation over St. Omer is recalled. No planes are lost today.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command makes a major effort against multiple targets. Results are good, and bomber losses are acceptable to maintain a sustainable bombing offensive.

The RAF sends 65 Wellingtons and 33 Hampden bombers against Mannheim and nearby Ludwigshafen, losing two Wellingtons and one Hampden. The raid is a big success, destroying five businesses and damaging three more (including a celluloid factory hit when a bomber crashes into it). The celluloid factory production is reduced by 75% for 8 days. In addition, 10 houses are destroyed with 572 damaged. In total, 27 people perish and 55 are injured.

The second target of the night is at Karlsruhe. The RAF sends 97 bombers (50 Hampdens, 28 Wellingtons, 11 Halifaxes, and 8 Stirlings) against railway targets. At a cost of one Halifax, one Wellington, and one Hampden, the RAF causes moderate damage in the western Weststadt, Muhlberg, and Rhine Harbor areas. There are 34 people killed.

The third target of the night is at Frankfurt. The RAF sends 68 aircraft (46 Whitleys and 22 Wellingtons), losing 2 Whitleys and one Wellington. While the bomber pilots claim to have hit the target, some bombs fall on Mainz 20 miles away.

In addition, in diversionary raids, RAF Bomber Command sends 13 Wellingtons to Aachen, 8 Wellingtons to Boulogne, and 5 Hampdens on mine-laying off the eastern coast of Denmark. The RAF loses two Wellingtons over Aachen, all of the other raiders return safely.

For the night, RAF Bomber Command flies 289 sorties and loses 11 aircraft. The loss rate of 3.8% is under the 5% threshold usually considered sustainable.

A Lockheed Hudson V9055 crashes at Kaldaðarnes, Iceland when sheep run across the runway during takeoff, collapsing the left landing gear. The ensuing fire causes the depth charges in the Hudson to explode. The crew survives, but a bystander has his left arm cut off by a piece of a propeller blade that flies across the runway.

New Zealand Sergeant J.A. Ward is awarded the Victoria Cross. Ward earned it on the night of 7 July 1941 while serving as a co-pilot in an RAF No. 75 Squadron Vickers Wellington.

SS Swiftpool, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
SS Swiftpool, sunk by U-372 on 5 August 1941 while in Convoy SL-81.

Battle of the Atlantic: The Germans have known about the location of North Atlantic Convoy SL-81 long enough from reconnaissance to set up a picket line of U-boats in front of it. Today, they attack.

U-372 (Kptlt. Heinz-Joachim Neumann), on its first patrol out of Kiel, torpedoes is in position west of Ireland to attack Convoy SL-81shortly after midnight. At 01:50, Neumann attacks and sinks two British freighters:

  • 3136-ton Belgravian (2-3 deaths, 47 survivors)
  • 5205-ton Swiftpool (42 deaths, 7 survivors)

Neumann claims to hit a third ship, but that is unconfirmed.

U-75 (Kptlt. Helmuth Ringelmann), on its third patrol out of St. Nazaire, then takes his turn to attack Convoy SL-81 at 05:20. Ringelmann fires a spread that sinks two British freighters:

  • 4512-ton Cape Rodney (all 35 survive)
  • 5415-ton Harlingen (2-3 deaths, 39 survivors)

Cape Rodney is taken in tow by tug HMS Zwarte Zee, but sinks on 9 August west of Ushant.

U-74 (Kptlt. Eitel-Friedrich Kentrat), on its third patrol out of Lorient, also attacks Convoy SL-81 at 05:40. Kentrat torpedoes and sinks British 4922-ton British freighter Kumasian. There is one death and 59 people (including 9 passengers) survive and are picked up by escort corvette HMS La Malouine. Kentrat reports hitting and damaging three other ships, but that is not confirmed.

So, in the span of a few hours, Convoy SL-81 effectively loses five ships totaling about 23,000 tons. U-204 also claims to make a hit on a large ship, but there is no confirmation.

In the far North, German Dornier reconnaissance aircraft shadow Force A off the coast of Norway. Following the disastrous raids on Kirkenes and Petsamo and the desultory results at Spitzbergen, the Admiralty decides that further actions in the region are a bad idea and recalls the force.

Convoy SL-83 departs from Freetown, Sierra Leone bound for Liverpool, Convoy HX-143 departs from Halifax bound for Liverpool.

Royal Navy destroyers HMS Partridge and Lauderdale are launched, and escort carrier Campania is laid down.

Canadian corvette HMCS Amherst and minesweeper Ungava (Lt. Frank K. Ellis) are commissioned.

Greek destroyer Miaoulis (formerly HMS Modbury) is laid down.

Adolf Hitler, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Adolf Hitler during his visit to the Eastern Front, Aug. 5,1941 (Associated Press).

Battle of the Mediterranean: The siege of Tobruk drags on, with nightly bombing and Australian soldiers getting sick from bad food and water. The Germans bomb every night, but the days are generally quiet... and hot. And full of flies.

Operation Guillotine, the British reinforcement of Cyprus, continues. Australian light cruiser Hobart and three destroyers leave Port Said bound for Famagusta. In separate sailings, Australian sloop Parramatta also departs from Port Said escorting freighter Gujarat to Famagusta, while destroyer Kipling proceeds from Port Said to Famagusta as well. Greek destroyer Kondouriotis departs from Alexandria bound for Famagusta carrying torpedoes for the Fleet Air Arm Squadron No. 815.

Destroyers HMS Decoy and Hero make the nightly supply run to Tobruk without incident.

An Axis convoy departs from Naples bound for Tripoli with five freighters.

Axis bombers attack Malta from about 21:38 to about an hour after midnight. The Italians lose at least two Italian BR-20 bombers and possibly a third.

Battle of the Pacific: Troop convoy WS 9AX arrives at Singapore after a long journey from the UK with reinforcements

Special Operations: Secret Intelligence Service (SIS aka MI6) agent Bradley Davis parachutes into France to join the Alliance Réseau (network) partisan organization as a radio operator. He later turns into a double agent working on behalf of the Germans.

Partisans: General Alessandro Pirzio Biroli, under orders from Mussolini to suppress the ongoing uprising in Montenegro "at whatever cost," issues an order to the local population to surrender all firearms. Biroli makes plans to launch an Italian counter-offensive, the first by Axis troops against partisans in Yugoslavia or apparently anywhere else. He has six divisions with a total of 70,000 troops.

U.S. heavy cruiser USS Northampton (CA-26), 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The U.S. heavy cruiser USS Northampton (CA-26) entering the river at Brisbane, Australia, on 5 August 1941. Note her false bow wave Camouflage Measure 5 on Camouflage Measure 1. She carries one of the early CXAM radars on her mainmast (Naval History and Heritage Command NH 94596).

US/Vichy French Relations: US Ambassador Leahy sends a long telegram to Washington which contains a memorandum from Vice-Premier Admiral Darlan. Darlan's memo attempts to explain such matters as its acquiescence to Imperial Japan's virtual occupation of French Indochina. Darlan explains that France had no choice because the Japanese would have seized the country anyway. He also calls the recent conflict in Syria and Lebanon the result of "a deliberate aggression" which France had the "obligation" to resist. Darlan concludes by asking for US "comprehension" of its "problems so grave that it is difficult for third parties to appreciate their extent."

Anglo/Vichy French Relations: The British imprison Vichy French General Dentz, former commander of French forces in the Levant. They refuse to release him until all Allied troops captured in the Levant and then spirited away to metropolitan France are returned and released.

US/Australian Relations: US heavy cruisers USS Northampton and Salt Lake City arrive at Brisbane, Australia on the first stop of a goodwill tour.

Buick, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
This photo with the lady in the car is from August 5th, 1941. You are facing north with Buick parts and service #84 in the background (Buick City News).

Vichy French/Japanese Relations: Japanese Ambassador Kato tries to see Admiral Darlan regarding French recognition of the puppet Wang Ching-wei government in China but is rebuffed because Darlan is "away." Kato is shunted off to Acting Vice Minister Ernest Lagarde, who advises the Japanese be patient for another two or three months.

Anglo/US/Japanese Relations: Japanese merchants makes purchases of gasoline from the stores of three foreign oil companies on Tainan. This is in technical violation of the US oil embargo on Japan. The Japanese take the chance that this will anger the Americans and permit the purchases under strict supervision. Oil supplies already are running tight in some areas of the Japanese sphere of influence.

At Tsingtao, China, Japanese authorities clamp down on American and British companies. The Japanese impose various sanctions, and in effect place receivers in control of the businesses who have final say on all decision. No ownership interest may be transferred without Japanese approval, and the Japanese decide on the distribution of profits.

The Japanese learn that the US, British, and Chinese are planning to build a military road through Darjeeling, Tibet, and Seita in order to supply the Nationalist government in Chungking, with engineering material already being assembled and prepared in the United States.

German death card, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A German death card for a soldier killed during the fighting of 5 August 1941.

US Military: The Vultee SNV Valiant makes its first flight. Deliveries soon begin to Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi, Texas. The plane quickly takes on the nickname "Vultee Vibrator" because it tends to vibrate in situations including high airspeed and approaching stalling speed.

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Army considers attacking northward and seizing the trans-Siberian railroad in order to stop US lend-lease shipments. The issue apparently arises from a suggestion by the Japanese Ambassador in Rome, who thinks it best to help eliminate the Soviet Union before it can combine with the Americans in a general war. However, the Japanese high command decides that it would be wiser to not provoke the Soviets and Americans and let the matter drop without approval.

Bombing and Gunnery School trainees, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School trainees from Sydney, Australia, MacDonald, Manitoba July 6 - August 5, 1941.

Australian Military: Lieutenant General Sir Iven Giffard Mackay, commander of Australian 6th Division, is appointed to the command of Australian Home Forces. Mackay must fly back to Australia in order to take up the position, which will take until 1 September.

US Government: Presidential yacht USS Potomac (AG-35) pulls alongside heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31) at Menemsha Bight, Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts at 05:30. President Roosevelt and his advisers on board the cruiser, which embarks at 06:17 to cross north through the Cape Cod Canal. Press dispatches pretend that Roosevelt remains on board the Potomac (an elaborate ruse is implemented with a Roosevelt double remaining on the yacht) while the Augusta and accompanying cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) continues north toward Canada.

Vice-Premier adds control over France's North Africa colonies in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco to his resume. General Weygand is his deputy. The Germans are not fond of Weygand, who is opposed to German use of Vichy French ports and bases in North Africa.

Westmount, Quebec train station, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Westmount, Quebec train station, 5 August 1941 (Old Time Trains, Bud Laws Collection).

Lithuania: The Provisional Government of Lithuania, a temporary government formed by members of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) in Kaunas and Vilnius and seeking the goal of an independent Lithuania, is disbanded by the Germans. The Germans have no interest in independent states within their area of control, and the provisional government also is opposed to the Holocaust.

Holocaust: The Germans begin liquidations of Jews in Pinsk, which they occupied on 4 July. About 8000 Jewish men, including 20 members of the Judenrat, are ordered to repair a railroad track. However, they are marched to pits outside of town and executed. Over the next few days, the death total climbs to about 10-11,000.

French Homefront: Vichy limits wine consumption to two liters per person per week.

John F. Kennedy, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
John F. Kennedy ca. 1939.

American Homefront: In Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day" column, she describes how "we" traveled through upstate New York over the weekend. She never mentions who is with her, leaving the clear implication that it is her husband. However, President Roosevelt at this time is at sea sailing up the east coast to Canada on a top-secret mission.

John F. Kennedy receives a physical examination by a Navy Medical Board in Boston. John's father, Joe, has sent a letter to Director of Naval Intelligence Captain Alan Kirk pressuring him to accept John. Kirk complies and the board clears Kennedy after barely examining him at all. JFK is now cleared to become a US Naval officer.

NY Times, 5 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
New York Times, 5 August 1941. "Full U.S. Aid Pledged Russia."

2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

August 4, 1941: Hitler at the Front


Monday 4 August 1941

HItler and von Bock at Borisov, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Adolf Hitler meets with Army Group Center commander Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, 4 August 1941.

Eastern Front: Adolf Hitler on 4 August 1941 makes one of his rare visits to an army group headquarters when he flies to visit Field Marshal Fedor von Bock at Borisov. Also in attendance are the senior Wehrmacht commanders of Army Group Center.

Hitler seems unsure of the future direction of the campaign, at least according to some in attendance. At these conferences with Hitler, the generals invariably choose one man to put forth their own collective point of view, and today that is Colonel General Guderian. Guderian, who has led the advance toward Moscow with Panzer Group 2, later recalls that Hitler wants to take Leningrad first, but is undecided between Moscow and Ukraine:
He seemed to incline toward the latter target for a number of reasons: first, Army Group South seemed to be laying the groundwork for victory in that area; secondly, he believed that the raw materials and agricultural produce of the Ukraine were necessary to Germany for the further prosecution of the war; and finally, he thought it essential that the Crimea, ‘that Soviet aircraft carrier operating against the Rumanian oilfields’ be neutralized.
Based upon sheer conjecture buttressed by faulty staff work at army headquarters (OKH), Guderian opines that the Soviet Union is running out of manpower. Thus, Moscow should come next in order to force the Red Army to commit the last of its troops.

HItler at Borisov, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Adolf Hitler at headquarters of Army Group Center in Borisov, Belarus on August 4, 1941.

However, no firm decision is made. The impression gathered by those present is that General Hoth will take his Panzer Group 3 north to aid in the capture of Leningrad, while Guderian will take Panzer Group 2 south to help take Kiev. These moves, however, await definite OKW orders. It is often Hitler's tendency to leave those present at his conferences unclear about what he really wants even when he has very definite ideas about what that is.

Guderian decides to make the decision about future strategy himself rather than wait for formal orders. On the flight back to his headquarters, Guderian prepares plans for a continuation of the offensive toward Moscow using all of his troops. In this, he feels confident because all around him - von Bock, OKH Chief of Staff Franz Halder, Panzer Group 3 commander Hermann Hoth, and commander in chief of the army Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch - agree that Moscow should be the next objective. Everyone is sure that Hitler will come around to their point of view.

A Finnish soldier aiming an M/26 machine gun, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Finnish soldier aiming an M/26 machine gun, August 4, 1941 (SA-Kuva).

In the Far North sector, Group J of Finnish III Corps pursues the fleeing Soviets from the Sof'yanga that connects Top Lake with Pya Lake. The Soviets hope to make another stand at Kesten'ga in order to defend the vital Murmansk railway.

In the Army Group South sector, Kirovohrad falls to the Germans. Soviet 5th Army counterattacks German 6th Army south of Kiev but makes no progress. Soviet 9th and 18th armies are told to retreat behind the Bug River once they realize they cannot relieve the Uman pocket. Since this already is the situation, 9th Army begins retreating toward Nikolayev and 18th toward Nikopol. The Germans (XIV Corps) already are across the Bug and heading south to cut off both armies.

German soldier Karl Fuchs sends a letter today to his father, who is serving elsewhere on the front. It reads in part:
The pitiful hordes on the other side are nothing but felons who are driven by alcohol and the threat of pistols pointed at their heads. There is no troop morale and they are at best cannon fodder.
and
Having encountered these Bolshevik hordes and having seen how they live has made a lasting impression on me. Everyone, even the last doubter, knows today that the battle against these subhumans, who’ve been whipped into a frenzy by the Jews, was not only necessary but came in the nick of time.
Supply problems are becoming an issue in the Wehrmacht. After the generals tell him of the supply situation at their meeting, Hitler agrees to allocate an entire month of war production to the Eastern Front. In terms of tanks, this means only 35 new machines and 400 tank engines (which must be replaced regularly). This does not keep up with wastage and ordinary wear and tear.

A Finnish marksman with a Mosin-Nagant rifle, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Finnish marksman with a Mosin-Nagant rifle, August 4, 1941 (SA-Kuva).

European Air Operations: It is another day of light activity in northwestern Europe. RAF Bomber Command sends a dozen Blenheim bombers on a sweep of the Frisian Islands. Only six make an attack, with the others being recalled. The bombers only see fishing boats, which they attack. No bombers are lost.

East African Campaign: After a long period of quiet, there is some action in East Africa. While the British and their local allies have evicted the Italians from the coast and most of their inland strongholds, Mussolini's Italian forces do still control a few strong points in the mountains. One of these is Gondar, in the northern part of Abyssinia. Today, the South African Air Force swings into action and begins a daily bombing campaign that lasts until 6 August.

Battle of the Baltic: German bombers of KG4 drop 16 LMB mines in the Irben Strait and 16 LMB imines in the mouth of the river Triigi.

Soviet minesweeper T-201 Zariad hits a mine and sinks at Ristna beacon.

Dutch fishing boat Sumatra hits a mine and sinks north of Kolberg, Germany.

Hornet CV-8 under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
August 4, 1941: Hornet CV-8 under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-126 (Kptlt. Ernst Bauer), on its first patrol out of Bremen, is operating east of the Azores when it spots 172-ton British schooner Robert Max. Bauer decides to use his deck gun, so he fires two warning shots over the Robert Max's bow. After the ship is evacuated, Bauer sinks the ship. Afterward, he visits with the six-man British crew in their lifeboat, offering them directions to San Miguel and some cigarets. The crew reaches the Azores in three days.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Victorious sends three Fulmar planes to attack Tromsø, Norway. One of the planes is shot down and the crew is captured.

A Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw-200 bombs and sinks 4337-ton British freighter Tunisia in the mid-Atlantic south of Iceland and west of Ireland. Tunisia's valuable cargo of manganese ore is lost. There are five survivors and 38 deaths.

Royal Navy escort ship Banff (a former US coast guard cutter) collides with a lighter in the Thames Estuary and sustains some damage.  Banff returns to Tilbury for repairs.

Royal Navy patrol ship Cavina intercepts 5522-ton German blockade runner Frankfurt west of the Azores. The Frankfurt's crew scuttles the ship rather than surrender it. Two lifeboats are launched by the Frankfurt, and the Cavina picks up one with 26 men. The other lifeboat refuses to be taken aboard and is never seen again.

Having delivered its good at Archangel, Royal Navy minelayer Adventure departs, escorted by two Soviet destroyers.

Royal Navy submarine Tigris arrives at Polyarny, Russia in order to conduct patrols from there off the coast of northern Finland and Norway.

The Royal Navy sinks floating crane AC-6 in Skerry Sound in Scotland as a blockship in order to block access to Scapa Flow.

Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Sidmouth (Commander Henry T. Rust) is commissioned.

Canadian minesweeper HMCS Malpeque (Lt. Leslie L. Foxall) is commissioned.

US Navy light cruiser USS Houston is laid down.

U-523 is laid down.

Battle of the Mediterranean: The Luftwaffe strafes Royal Navy minesweeping whaler Sotra off Mersa Matruh. There is one death.

Royal Navy destroyers HMS Jaguar and Nizam make the nightly run to Tobruk.

An Axis supply convoy departs from Naples bound for Tripoli, while one also departs from Tripoli bound for Naples.

The Luftwaffe attacks Ismailia, Egypt.

At Malta, Governor Dobbie announces that olive oil is going to be rationed. This sorely disappoints the Maltese people, who use a lot of olive oil in cooking.

 Hornet CV-8 under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
August 4, 1941: Hornet CV-8 under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding. 

Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese recall 16,975-ton liner Asama Maru, which has been on a trans-Pacific voyage. The ship, which is about 980 miles east of Honolulu, has been caught by the imposition of US sanctions.

Japanese 16,975-ton liner Tatsuta Maru departs from San Francisco for Tokyo. The Americans have made an exception to their sanctions against Japan to refuel the Tatsuta Maru in order for it to return to Japan.

Japanese freighter Heian Maru departs Seattle and heads back to Japan.

Spy Stuff: The Japanese are keeping a close eye on US activities throughout the Pacific. Today, they learn that about 600 US soldiers have arrived in Manila aboard transport USS President Coolidge.

Ambassador Nomura reports to Tokyo that anti-Japanese sentiment (as reflected in a published Gallup poll) is high and that the US newspapers are in full support of the US government position on Japan. In his cable to Tokyo, Nomura asks to be sent a "Foreign Office expert" who is familiar with "the Government's high policy" because he does not know what the government truly wants.

Tokyo sends out a circular that covers proper procedures for the destruction of obsolete codes and the proper care of current codes.

Newsweek, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Newsweek, 4 August 1941, Cover story: "What is Japan's Real Goal in the Indies?"

US/Japanese Relations: Acting Secretary Sumner Welles meets with Japanese Minister Wakasugi in Washington. Welles says that the policy of the US is peace in the Pacific and that it opposes all use of force there by others. He says that the Japanese have adopted an "attitude of aggression" toward other countries that aims to establish military overlordship throughout the region. Wakasugi responds that the Japanese were isolated for centuries and only awoke from this isolation after other foreign powers had established their own imperialist dominions in the region. Welles further states that regional approaches to international relations, such as decisions confined only to Europe or only to the Pacific, were insufficient and only a "universal approach" could work.

Welles also mentions that he had received "reports" that Japan intended to move further south into Thailand. This would cause further problems in US/Japanese relations. He also states that the "basic principle of the future" would be free trade, with equal accessibility to raw materials by all countries.

Life magazine, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Life magazine, 4 August 1941, cover story "British Women."

US/Soviet Relations: The US State Department makes a formal commitment to Soviet Ambassador Konstantin Umansky to begin lend-lease shipments. Umansky calls the decision "an expression of confidence" in the survival of the Soviet Union - which is not a commonly held view at this time. The US also announces that the American-Soviet Trade Agreement of 6 August 1937 has been extended to 6 August 1942.

Soviet/Polish Relations: In a sign of goodwill to the Polish government-in-exile in London, the Soviets release General Władysław Anders from prison.

German/Italian Relations: The Germans and Italians agree on terms under which the Italian expeditionary forces will operate on the Eastern Front.

Time magazine, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Time magazine, 4 August 1941, Cover Credit: Ernest Hamlin Baker.

US Military: The US 1st Marine Division begins amphibious maneuvers in conjunction with the US Army 1st Division (the "Big Red One") at New River, North Carolina. Aircraft escort ship Long Island (AVG-1) stands offshore and provides air operations during the maneuvers.

The Ryan Aeronautical Company NR-1 trainer plane takes its first flight. It is a low-wing monoplane with a metal fuselage, unlike most other trainers at this time. This is part of a huge expansion of US Navy training of pilots during this period of time. The Ryan NR-1 will equip NAS Jacksonville.

Mark Clark is appointed Assistant Chief of Staff (G-3) at US Army General Headquarters and promoted to Brigadier General.

US Government: President Roosevelt continues his "fishing trip" off the northeast coast. While that is what the White House has told reporters it is, in fact, Roosevelt has other plans. Aboard presidential yacht USS Potomac (AG 25), Roosevelt sails today from Point Judith, Rhode Island to South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. There, Crown Prince Martha of Norway and her party board. There apparently is some fishing during the day, but that is not the point of the trip. Then, after Martha returns to shore, Roosevelt sails up to Menemsha Bight, Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts. There, as planned, await US heavy cruisers Augusta (CA-31) and Tuscaloosa (CA-37), along with five destroyers.

Winston Churchill on HMS Prince of Wales, August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"The Prime Minister Winston Churchill on board HMS PRINCE OF WALES during his journey to America to meet with President Roosevelt. The quadruple 14 inch guns of Y turret can be seen in the background." © IWM (H 12784).

British Government: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill boards battleship HMS Prince of Wales at Scapa Flow. It departs at 17:30 and proceeds across the Atlantic to Placentia Bay. With him is Harry Hopkins, returning from Moscow.

A religious service at Vitebsk, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet Union, Vitebsk - A military service, with German soldiers and local women standing in the church (Wundshammer, Benno, Federal Archive, Bild 146-2018-0001).

Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto at Slobodka is sealed. It is encircled with barbed wire and German guardhouses. There are 29,760 people in the Ghetto.

American Homefront: Mickey Owen of the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first catcher to successfully handle three foul pop-ups during the same inning.

New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio and Lefty Gomez, 4 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio and Lefty Gomez, right, during at call at Treasury House in Washington, Aug. 4, 1941. They have offered to autograph books of defense savings stamps. (AP Photo).

2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

August 3, 1941: Bishop von Galen Denounces Euthanasia


Sunday 3 August 1941

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Münster.

Eastern Front: In the Far North sector, Group J (one regiment) of Finnish III Corps finally on 3 August 1941 smashes through fierce Soviet opposition at the Sof'yanga, an eight-mile-long channel connecting Pya Lake and Top Lake in Karelia. The Soviets are only pried out of their defenses due to a brilliant Finnish flanking move accomplishing by sending a battalion over the western tip of Top Lake to attack from behind the Soviet line. With this accomplished, the Finns can advance to Kesten'ga with the ultimate objective of cutting the Murmansk railway.

In the Army Group North sector, Soviet 325th Rifle Regiments is evacuated by sea from Litsa Bay.

In the Army Group Center sector, General Guderian's advance on Roslavl bears fruit when XXIV Corps (General Geyr von Schweppenburg) links up with 4th Army's (General Feld Marshal Gunther Hans von Kluge) IX Corp. This forms the Roslavl Pocket, trapping about 38,000 Soviets who quickly become POWs. This junction wipes out Group Kachalov and much of Soviet 28th Army. The Soviets also lose about 35,000 in a pocket at Mogilev which 4th Army finally subdues.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
An advance unit of German soldiers attacking a village west of Kiev, August 1941 (Hähle, Johannes, Federal Archive, Bild 146-1974-099-45).

In the Army Group South sector, German 16th Panzer Division meets with the Hungarian Mechanized Corps (Gyorshadtest) at Pervomaisk to form a secondary encirclement around the Soviet forces trapped in a pocket at Uman. Portions of 20 Soviet divisions continue to resist within the pocket, but with increasing futility. About 103,000 Soviet soldiers are within the pocket and face bleak prospects of rescue from Soviet forces further east. Many Soviet officers are trapped within the pocket, including the commanders of 6th and 12th armies, four corps commanders, and 11 division commanders.

Romanian 4th Army (General Nicolae Ciuperca) crosses the Dniester River and continues advancing eastward. This shows Romanian leader Ion Antonescu's willingness to aid Operation Barbarossa even in the conquest of lands that are not historically (at least arguably) Romanian.

The Luftwaffe bombs Moscow again. However, this attack is much smaller than previous attacks and can best be described as a nuisance raid.

Oblt. Kurt Sochatzy of III./JG 3 shoots down an IL-2 over Kiev for his 38th - and last - victory. His own plane is disabled when a Soviet plane hits his Bf 109 and shears off its wing. Sochatzy successfully bails out and is taken a prisoner of war.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
3rd Panzer Division Panzer 3 Tanks crossing makeshift pontoon war bridge, Beresina River, August 1941.

European Air Operations: The weather across northwestern Europe is unsettled, with heavy cloud cover that impairs navigation and bombing accuracy. RAF Bomber Command sends 39 Whitley bombers against Frankfurt (no losses) and 34 Wellingtons against Hannover (one lost). A Rhubarb attack by 7 Whitleys is sent against Calais harbor (no losses).

The Luftwaffe also sends some small raids against England during the night. Some bombs drop at Spittal near Berwick, damaging about a hundred houses and a church and destroying some ships and four houses.

Battle of the Baltic: The Soviets lose U-1, a motor torpedo boat, today. In addition, Soviet minesweeper T-212 Shtag hits a mine and sinks in the Soela-Vjajn Strait.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Germans at a sign warning of partisans in the area, August 1941. "Soviet Union center, Welish-Usswjat - field gendarmerie on a motorbike with sidecar in a partisan area (sign: "Partisan danger from Welish to Ußwjati" (Trautvetter, Federal Archive,  Bild 101I-007-2477-06).

Battle of the Atlantic: The Germans have spotted Convoy SL-81 southwest of Ireland and have assembled a large force to intercept it. Already eight U-boats are in the vicinity, and the Luftwaffe maintains observation as well. This leads to action even though the Germans don't yet attack the convoy itself.

Royal Navy CAM (Catapult-Armed Merchantman) ship HMS Maplin uses its catapult to launch a modified Hawker Hurricane ("Hurricat"), which shoots down a Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor. This is the first success for a CAM ship. Volunteer pilot R.W.H. Everett of RAF No. 804 Squadron lands his plane near destroyer Wanderer, escorting Convoy SL-81, and is picked up after he struggles to get out of the aircraft before it quickly sinks.

 Royal Navy destroyer HMS Wanderer and corvette Hydrangea, and Norwegian destroyer St. Albans team up to sink U-401 (Kptlt. Gero Zimmermann) southwest of Ireland. The depth charge attack kills all 45 men on the U-boat. U-401 sinks on its first patrol, with no successes to its credit.

Operation EF (raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo) ends as Force K returns to Seidisfjord, then proceeds back to Scapa Flow.

Convoy WS-10 (Winston Special) forms at sea. Its ultimate destinations are Bombay and Aden. Convoy OS-2 departs from Liverpool bound for Freetown.

Canadian minesweeper HMCS Quinte is launched.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Schenectady 1912 at St. Paul, August 3, 1941 (Robert Graham).

Battle of the Mediterranean: After dark, a heavy Luftwaffe attack on Suez and surrounding areas causes great damage. The planes are Heinkel He 111s of II/KG.26.

The Luftwaffe (Heinkel He 111s of II/KG.26) bombs and sinks 1087-ton Belgian ship Escaut in Attika Bay, Suez. All three aboard perish.

The Luftwaffe (Heinkel He 111s of II/KG.26) bombs and sinks 5322-ton Belgian tanker Alexandre Andre about eight miles south of Suez. The ship is burned out and can only be used as a storage hulk for the remainder of the war.

The Luftwaffe (Heinkel He 111s of II/KG.26) bombs and damages 8120-ton British tanker Desmoulea at Suez. The ship has to be towed to Bombay for repairs.

The RAF bombs and sinks 216-ton Italian freighter Elisa off Benghazi.

Dutch submarine O-21 (Lt Cdr Van Dulm) uses its deck gun to sink two small Italian ships south of Sardinia. However, a larger sailing vessel gets away.

Greek submarine Nereus claims to sink a sailing ship and a transport off Rhodes. However, there is no confirmation.

Bf 100 fighters of ZG-26 attack Mersa Matruh and damage Royal Navy submarine chaser Sotra during the night.

Operation Guillotine, the British reinforcement of Cyprus, continues as Royal Navy sloop Flamingo escorts transport Kevinbank to Famagusta.

The RAF sends 21 Maryland bombers to attack the Axis front lines at Tobruk.

Winston Churchill praises Malta in a telegram, stating in part:
Now that the convoys have reached you safely with all the stores and reinforcements, I take occasion to congratulate you on the firm and steadfast manner in which you and your devoted garrison and citizens have maintained Malta inviolate against all attacks for more than a year and to express my confidence that with the help of God our cause will continue to prosper and that the contribution of Malta to the final victory will add a noble chapter to the famous story of the Island.
Malta is now well-supplied, at least compared to its situation during 1940.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Bf 109D of the 3/JFS 5 at Toussus le Noble, August 1941.

US Government: On a highly secret mission, President Franklin Roosevelt boards a train from Washington, D.C. to New London, Connecticut. There, he boards the Presidential yacht USS Potomac (AG-25), which is attended by tender Calypso (AG-35). The ships sail to Point Judith, Rhode Island and stay there for the night. The White House informs the press corps that this is merely a fishing cruise.

British Government: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill travels north from London to board a ship that will take him across the Atlantic for a conference with President Roosevelt.

Holocaust: There are incidents in several places today. At Slobodka, Ukraine, the Germans fill a local synagogue with Jews and then set it on fire.

In Jelgava, Latvia, SS Einsatzkommandos (Lt. Hamann) execute 1550 Jews.

At Chernovtsy, Romania, Einsatzgruppen arrest 1200 Jews and execute 682 of them.

At Mitau, Latvia, the Germans execute 1500 Jews.

At Stanislawów, Ukraine, the Germans round up professional Jews and execute several hundred of them.

Isi Brauman, who writes a diary that later is published, arrives at Auschwitz. He writes: "I am going to die. There is no doubt." He received the diary from his mother for Hanukkah in 1940.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Bishop von Galen.

German Homefront: Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Münster, gives a sermon today - the third in a sequence during the summer of 1941 - in which he denounces the policies being followed by the Reich:
"Thou shalt not kill." God engraved this commandment on the souls of men long before any penal code... God has engraved these commandments in our hearts... They are the unchangeable and fundamental truths of our social life... Where in Germany and where, here, is obedience to the precepts of God? [...] As for the first commandment, "Thou shalt not have strange gods before me," instead of the One, True, Eternal God, men have created at the dictates of their whim, their own gods to adore: Nature, the State, the Nation, or the Race.
About euthanasia (German programme Aktion T4) in particular he says:
It is a terrible doctrine which seeks to justify the murder of innocent people and which allows the violent killing of invalids, cripples, the incurably ill, the old and the weak who are no longer able to work ... once the principle that it is permissible to kill "unproductive" humans has been admitted and applied then we must all pity ourselves when we, too, grow old and weak.
Von Galen spends the remainder of his sermon denouncing the depredations of the current German regime against the Church and vulnerable people in society. He focuses on harsh euthanasia policies and calls it murder. If a regime can dispense with the Fifth Commandment, thou shalt not kill, no other commandment survives. Once you start down that path, he concludes, others could be at risk of similar policies - such as injured Wehrmacht soldiers.

Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, dean of St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin, also denounces the euthanasia program in a sermon today. However, his sermon does not receive as much publicity as Bishop von Galen's does.

Copies of the sermon spread throughout the Reich, particularly the heavily Catholic southern regions such as Bavaria. This is considered a seminal moment in the German resistance, though it is not a direct call to action. The German authorities notice, of course, and restrict von Galen's movements. Hitler later comments:
The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing.
Despite menacing indications in the surviving German record as to von Galen's likely fate, he survives the war, perhaps through an oversight (Hitler evens many old scores during the final months of the war, but not this one). Hitler does not harm him in part due to von Galen's moral legitimacy that is recognized by many religious Germans who could be alienated. True to his principles, he then castigates the Allied occupation forces for their mistreatment of civilians. He also argues on behalf of certain imprisoned Wehrmacht officers at their trials. His life is cut short on 22 March 1946 by an appendix infection.

Von Galen is beatified (one step down from being a saint) by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. The Catholic Church moves very deliberately in such matters and he may someday become a saint.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
No fuel sales are permitted after 19:00 on 3 August along the east coast of the United States in order to conserve fuel. (Photo by John Rooney/AP Photo).

American Homefront: There is a dusk-to-dawn blackout along the east coast in order to conserve gasoline. This shuts down 100,000 service stations from 19:00 to 07:00 on the 4th.

Future History: Martha Helen Kostyra is born in Jersey City, New Jersey. While attending Barnard College, Martha does some fashion modeling for Chanel. She marries Andrew Stewart in July 1961and takes his name to become Martha Stewart. Martha goes on to begin a career as a stockbroker, then eventually becomes a business mogul. As of 2018, Martha Stewart remains active, with her business endeavors, with her Martha Stewart Everyday home furnishing line featured in K-mart and products sold in other stores.

 3 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The royal residence at Detmold (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archive, Bild 212-283).

2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

August 2, 1941: Uman Encirclement Closes


Saturday 2 August 1941

Finnish soldiers manning a Maxim machine gun, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Two Finnish soldiers manning a Maxim machine gun, August 2, 1941 (SA-Kuva).

Eastern Front: Japanese Ambassador to Germany Oshima cables Tokyo on 2 August 1941 with news about the Eastern Front. He reports that an unnamed Swedish reporter who claims to have visited the front in the Baranovichi area has related that, while Germany must inevitably triumph over the Soviet Union, not everything is going well for the Wehrmacht. The Red Air Force remains powerful, and the Red Army has substantial reserves that it is throwing into the front around Leningrad. The reporter also relates to Oshima that German officers he has talked with already have noticed US tanks and planes being used in the Volga and Siberia areas.

Oshima's report also notes that:
Germany's greatest ordeals have been the result of guerrilla tactics used by the Soviet soldiers and civilian inhabitants. There is a thickly wooded area in the Pripet swamps. There are many, many remaining troops taking refuge in it. A German force endeavored to rout them, but knowing nothing of the area, failed completely.
The report seems grounded in solid fact (though the presence of US equipment at this time is questionable). The German offensive has prospered by sticking to the roads and quickly heading east to capture cities and Soviet military bases. This strategy, however, has the inherent drawback of leaving many Soviet troops and even entire units in the rear areas, fully capable of resisting and even taking offensive action against nearby Wehrmacht units and bases. Perhaps most tellingly, the German officers are surprised and even worried because captured Soviet troops remain loyal to the Stalin regime and appear committed to continuing their guerrilla warfare even if Moscow falls.

Finnish patrol leader’s kit, including a KP-31 submachine gun, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
A Finnish patrol leader’s kit, including a KP-31 submachine gun, grenades, and a Luger pistol, August 2, 1941 (SA-Kuva).

In the Army Group North sector, German 16th Army (Colonel General Ernst Busch) continues attacking Staray Russa below Lake Ilmen.

In the Army Group Center sector, General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 attacks toward Roslavl as it heads south on Hitler's express orders to help with the conquest of Kiev. The Soviet, meanwhile, ramp up their attacks on the advanced German "lightning rod" position at Yelnya.

In the Army Group South sector, after many days of very hard fighting, Panzer Group 1 (General Ewald von Kleist) completes the encirclement at Uman. This happens when German XLVIII Corps (General Kempf) hooks up with German 17th Field Army (General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel). The closure southwest of Uman is all the more dangerous to the trapped Soviet forces because 16th Panzer Division and Hungarian Mechanized Corps (Gyorshadtest) also are close to forming a second, separate closure at Pervomaisk. The Soviets have parts of 20 divisions of their 6th, 12th, and 18th armies inside the pocket, including four corps commanders and 11 division commanders. Resistance does continue until about 8 August. However, except for small parties, the Soviets trapped today are unable to break out, and 103,000 Soviet soldiers go into captivity.

Young Finnish soldiers marching to the front, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Young Finnish soldiers marching to the front. Laamala, August 2, 1941.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command sends 24 Blenheim bombers on Rhubarb coastal sweeps during the day between Cherbourg and Texel. The British lose one plane. Another attack is made on Kiel with three Fortresses. Kiel takes light damage, with one person killed and 9 injured, and all the Fortresses make it back to base.

During the night, RAF Bomber Command goes back into action in a big way after about a week of unsettled weather and light operations. There are multiple raids, as the British believe in diversionary raids to distract the Luftwaffe night fighters. It is one of the RAF's biggest efforts of the war to date but produces only modest returns.

The main British attack is on Hamburg with 80 bombers (58 Wellingtons, 21 Whitleys, 1 Stirling). They lose two Wellingtons. Hamburg takes moderate damage, with 5 dead, 38 wounded and 738 made homeless. Five large fires and five other small fires break out, some of which burn throughout the night.

A secondary attack on Berlin is made by 53 aircraft (40 Wellingtons, 8 Halifaxes, and 5 Stirlings). The sky still is a bit opaque and bombing accuracy is poor. The British lose 3 Wellingtons and one Stirling.

Another attack is made on Kiel by 50 Hampdens. The British lose five planes. The damage to Kiel is light, with one injury and one house hit, though the RAF pilots claim that the raid is a great success on the dockyards area.

The RAF also sends 20 Wellingtons to Cherbourg, but little is accomplished there because of low-lying clouds. In addition, five Hampdens are sent to lay mines off of Kiel. There are no losses from these operations.

Overall, for 208 sorties, the RAF loses 11 aircraft during the night. This works out to a 5.3% loss rate, which is at the upper margins of sustainable losses.

RAF No. 129 Squadron (Mysore), equipped with Supermarine Spitfires at RAF Leconfield, becomes operational and its pilots quickly shoot down a Junkers Ju-88 near Flamborough Head. No. 129 Squadron is named after an Indian province in recognition of the Indian government raising substantial sums of money for the war effort. However, it is not manned by Indian pilots.

Finnish soldier looks down the sights of a 20mm Lahti L-39 anti-tank rifle, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
A Finnish soldier looks down the sights of a 20mm Lahti L-39 anti-tank rifle, 2 August 1941 (SA-Kuva). At this time, a 20-mm anti-tank weapon is still capable of destroying most armor except for Soviet KV tanks. A well-placed round could blow off a tread or penetrate the rear or the sides of most tanks. 

Battle of the Baltic: Soviet submarine S-11 hits a mine and sinks in the Soela Väin Strait, Estonia (between Saaremaa and Hiiumaa). There are 44 deaths and three survivors. The submarine is raised after the war and scrapped. Soviet submarine M-99 also sinks around this time due to mines.

German 2nd S-Boat Flotilla lays 36 TMB mines off Cape Rista in the Gulf of Finland.

The Luftwaffe (KG4) drops 22 aerial mines north of Moon Sound, 15 east of Moon Sound, and 18 LMB mines west of Worms Island.

Finnish submarine Veshiisi (Lt. Cdr. Kijanen) lays eighteen mines in Minefield F.17 east of Odensholm.


Bf 109F, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Experts of the British Ministry of aircraft production examine a Bf 109F forced down near Kent, England, August 2, 1941. (AP Photo).

Battle of the Atlantic: The Royal Navy finally concedes that Operation EF, the Force K attack on Kirkenes and Petsamo, has turned into a liability when it spots German reconnaissance shadowing the fleet. The Admiralty calls off a planned attack on Hammerfest, Norway due to inability to maintain surprise and heads for home.

The RAF bombs and sinks Dutch pilot boat Loodsboot No. 12 west of Den Helder.

German guard ship H 855 Stoomloodsvaartuig 12 sinks, perhaps due to an RAF attack.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 1110-ton British freighter Koolga about 20 km off Great Yarmouth. It makes it to Great Yarmouth under tow on the 3rd.

Two Dutch tankers, 8252-ton Murena and 2068-ton Rozenburg, collide at Halifax, Nova Scotia. The bigger ship usually wins in such situations, and that is the case this time, as Rozenburg goes to the bottom.

Some source pin the Luftwaffe bombing of British freighter Trident to today, while others list it on 1 August.

U-204 (Kptlt Walter Kell) spots Convoy SL-81 in the North Atlantic and informs U-boat headquarters in Paris.

US Navy battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40) returns to New London, Connecticut from a neutrality patrol.

Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Tadoussac is launched, submarine HMS P-48 and minesweeper Wedgeport are laid down.

Canadian minesweeper HMCS Minas (Lt. Commander Lt. James B. Lamb) is commissioned.

US Navy light cruiser USS Miami is laid down in Philadelphia.

U-154 (Korvettenkapitän Walther Kölle) is commissioned.

Liberty magazine, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Liberty magazine, 2 August 1941.

Battle of the Mediterranean: There is a brief stir on the usually static Tobruk perimeter when two Australian companies attack Italian positions, supported by a heavy artillery barrage of over 60 guns. The Australians are attempting to recover some tactically useful territory lost during the May fighting but fails with heavy casualties. The Italian 7th Bersaglieri Regiment holds its ground against the Australian 2/43rd and 2/28th Battalions.

Operation Style, a convoy mission to Malta, continues. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal launches a load of Hurricanes to Malta. Light cruisers Arethusa and Hermione continue on to Malta with fast minelayer Manxman and destroyers Lightning and Sikh, unloading collectively 54 officers and 970 other ranks, along with 130 tons of supplies. All of the ships unload quickly and the entire force, including Ark Royal, returns to Gibraltar.

During the afternoon, Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Hermione, sailing with the Operation Style ships, spots a submarine shadowing the convoy. It rams and sinks Italian submarine Tembien off Tunis.

The Luftwaffe attacks Australian destroyer Vendetta and Royal Navy destroyer Havock off Tobruk during the night supply run. However, South African fighters drive the Germans off. Both sides lose about three planes.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet submarine L-5 (Lt Cdr Zhdanov) lays 14 mines off Mangalia, Romania.

Battle of the Pacific: Dutch patrol boat Bellatrix seizes Vichy French vessel Dupleix and gives it to the Netherlands East Indies naval forces for use.

German notice of execution in the Channel Islands, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
To make a point about the consequences of unlawful communications with England, the Germans post this notice (in English, right) in the Channel Islands about a Frenchman being executed on 2 August 1941. In fact, someone on the Channel Islands will at one point also be shot for supposedly using carrier pigeons to communicate with England.

Spy Stuff: The Japanese continue to keep a close eye on US activities across the Pacific. Interest is keen on US intentions given the recent imposition of sanctions on Japan. The Japanese embassy in Manila reassures Tokyo that the number of planes flying over Manila has decreased considerably, and the US planes flying over the Philippines have not been camouflaged or otherwise altered in a war-like fashion. This information helps to defuse tensions in Tokyo.

The Japanese also are spying on US fleet movements in the Atlantic. Tokyo receives a report today from its spies in Cuba stating the composition of US naval forces in Guantanamo Bay from 16-24 July 1941: two battleships, four light cruisers, four destroyers, two Coast Guard cutters, and two bombers.

US/Japanese Relations: The economic sanctions imposed by President Roosevelt on Japan recently have caught some ships at sea without instructions as to how to proceed. Tatsuta Maru sits off San Francisco Bay with a load of $2.5 million of raw silk, but the captain refuses to make port without assurances that the US government will not seize his cargo. A Japanese liner, 16,975-ton Asama Maru, is sailing about 980 miles north of Honolulu but also is unsure how to proceed.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry scrambles to come up with a solution. Finally, it instructs Tatsuta Maru to stop at Honolulu. It also orders freighter Heian Maru at Seattle to proceed to Vancouver and unload there.

Japanese Ambassador Nomura has a conversation with an unidentified US Cabinet member. As Nomura informs Tokyo after the meeting:
The United States is trying to restrain Japan, first of all, by waging an economic war... [T]he United States is at the same time making military preparations against the possible eventuality of a clash of arms... That the Russo-German war is lasting longer than expected has proved to be an advantage to the United States... The cabinet member believes firmly in the necessity of this war lasting for several years for the reason that due to destruction of her men and materials, and due to the shortage o foil, Germany would not be able to do anything on a great scale even after the fighting on the Eastern Front has come to an end.
This, of course, proves prophetic, but not exactly in the manner intended.

RAF No. 305 Polish bomber squadron in front of a Wellington, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Lieutenant Colonel Bohdan Kleczynski (holding cane) with his ground crew of RAF No. 305 Polish bomber squadron in front of a Wellington (Lindholme, August 2, 1941). Kleczynski Papers, Box 2, Hoover Institution Archives.

US/Dutch Relations: US Army Air Force General Henry Clagett arrives in Java to coordinate future air operations with the local Dutch authorities and to survey airfields and base sites.

US/Soviet Relations: President Roosevelt's personal emissary to the Soviet Union, Harry Hopkins, announces that he has arranged with Joseph Stalin for the commencement of US lend-lease shipments to the Soviet Union.

Chinese/Soviet Relations: The local Soviet army in Outer Mongolia orders the Chinese Communist forces under Liu Po-Chao to transfer to Suihoku, which the Chinese do. This is the beginning of cooperation between Soviet and Chinese forces. The Soviets also promise to provide supplies to the Chinese via Outer Mongolia, which the Chinese help to transport.

Japanese/Thai Relations: The Japanese reach an agreement with the Thai government in which the Thaiese authorities will extend a letter of credit worth 10 million bahta to finance Japanese purchases of Thai goods. This enables trade to continue between the two nations despite the recent economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Great Britain.

Oliver Wendell Harrington, The Amsterdam News, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Oliver Wendell Harrington, The Amsterdam News, 2 August 1941. "That jive he's playin' on his tooter may not be in the army manual, Major, but that's the only way we can get them cats up in the mornin'." This cartoon plays upon the idea in the Andrew Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," recorded on 2 January 1941 and included in the Abbott and Costello film "Buck Privates, released in January 1941.

Japanese/Dutch Relations: Due to heightened tensions and the Dutch impositions of sanctions, Japanese nationals in the Dutch East Indies are fleeing the territory, swarming shipping agencies for passage back to Japan. The Netherlands Indies do relent just a bit on the sanctions recently imposed on Japan in conjunction with the United States and Great Britain. The Dutch allow one shipment of rubber, tin, and Ilmenite. The Japanese, meanwhile, are putting pressure on the Dutch by restricting food shipments from French Indo-China.

Japanese/Croatian Relations: Croatia, an Italian puppet state, officially recognizes the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo.

Anglo/Japanese Relations: The subject of British aid to China is a sore spot for the Japanese. Tokyo receives a report from Shanghai today revealing that the British are cooperating closely with Chinese military authorities.

Anglo/Finnish Relations: Having broken relations with Finland on the 1st, the Royal Navy extends its blockade of Europe to include the northern Finnish ports. For the moment, this is somewhat symbolic, as the British have nowhere nearby to supply their ships that far north.

Anglo/Iran/Afghani Relations: The British demand that Iran and Afghanistan expel all German nationals immediately. Having retained Iraq, the British feel they are in a strong position in the Middle East. Some Germans caught in Iraq have escaped to Iran and Afghanistan, but, still, there are very few there.

Errol Flynn on his yacht "Scirocco, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Errol Flynn on his yacht "Scirocco," 2 August 1941. There later are unproven allegations that Flynn was a German sympathizer at this time.

German/Italian Relations: The Italian Pasubio Infantry Division and Torino Infantry Division move to the Eastern Front in the Army Group South region. However, they do not see combat at this time.

Japanese Military: The Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa ("Peregrine Falcon," or "Oscar" in US military nomenclature) begins arriving at the Japanese 59th Flight Regiment (FR) at Hankow Airfield. The pilots begin training with the new plane, which will see operational use beginning on 29 October 1941.

Soviet Military: The NKVD is given orders to shoot on sight anyone suspected of injuring themselves to avoid combat. This is a pet suspicion of Joseph Stalin, who also suspects cowardly troops of sabotaging their own equipment. Deserters, meaning anyone walking away from the battlefield, already are subject to summary execution.

British Military: The British open a mosque in London for Muslim soldiers serving in the British armed forces.

US Military: The U.S. War Department dedicated the Millville Army Air Field (MAAF) as “America’s First Defense Airport.” The Millville, New Jersey airport serves as a gunnery school for fighter pilots, with training first conducted in the Curtiss P-40F Warhawk, then for most of the war in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

US Government: With trade severed between the United States and Japan, rayon (some forms are called "artificial silk") imported from Japan suddenly is in short supply. The US government thus decides to ration rayon.

Hildesheim Marketplace, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Hildesheim Marketplace, showing the Town Hall, 2 August 1941 (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archive, Bild 212-274).

German Government: In the early morning hours, after the midnight conference, Hitler sits around with his cronies expostulating on random topics as he often likes to do. Today, his topic is bureaucracy:
It's certain that we have a clean, incorruptible administration, but it's also too punctilious. It's over-organized, and, at least in certain sectors, it's overloaded. Its principal fault is that nobody in it is seeking for success and that it includes too many people without responsibility. Our functionaries fear initiative worse than anything else — and what a way they have of behaving as if they were nailed to their office chairs! We have much more elasticity in the army, with the exception of one sector of the Wehrmacht than in these civilian sectors. And that although the salaries are often inadequate!
Some neutral observers would likely agree that the World War II German bureaucracy is over-organized. However, that also, in the view of some, is one source of the efficiency of Wehrmacht divisions, which are very good at logistics and planning.

Rexist leader Léon Degrelle, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Rexist leader Léon Degrelle (center) during his medical examination on August 2, 1941, before his departure to the Eastern Front. Degrelle is one of Hitler's favorites - reportedly (accordingly to Degrelle after the war, at least), Hitler likes to say that if he had a son, he wishes it would be someone like Degrelle. The notation on the back of the photo reads: "Medical examination of the Walloon volunteers for the anti-Bolshevist front."

Holocaust: Germans massacre a large number of Jews at Ponary, Lithuania, allegedly numbering in the thousands.

Germans kill approximately 200 Jews at Kovno, Lithuania. This massacre apparently includes an American Jewish woman.

Norwegian Homefront: The German occupation authorities confiscate all civilian radios that they can find. However, as in other occupied nations, many remain used with great secrecy to listen to the BBC, which is considered a much more accurate source of news than German or Norwegian radio broadcasts.

American Homefront: The first Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, designated V-1650-1, rolls off the assembly line. It is a version of the Mark XX generating 1,390 hp (1,040 kW). It is intended for the Curtiss P-40F and XP-60 fighters. Packard Motor Car Company is producing the Merlin under license from Rolls Royce that was granted in September 1940. Rolls Royce made an order for $130 million worth of the engines. Packard will produce a total of 55,523 Rolls-Royce Merlin engines under license during World War II. Some remain in use well into the 21st Century.

Veronica Lake, 2 August 1941 worldwartwo.filiminspector.com
Picture Post, 2 August 1941. Is this the prettiest face in films? The magazine answers that question with a "yes." It is US actress Veronica Lake.

2018