Thursday, August 9, 2018

August 31, 1941: Mannerheim Says No


Sunday 31 August 1941


Viipuri Victory Parade, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish soldiers at a military parade in Viipuri celebrating its capture, 31 August 1941. They find the city in ruins, with 3807 of 6287 buildings destroyed (SA-Kuva).

Eastern Front: On 31 August 1941, the true nature of the relationship between the Finns and the Germans is starkly revealed without any possibility of misinterpretation. German General W. Erfurth contacts Finnish Field Marshal Mannerheim on behalf of Field Marshal Keitel, head of OKW, and informs Mannerheim that Keitel will be sending a letter coordinating a joint attack on Leningrad. Mannerheim already has decided not to attack Leningrad, and politely replies that he is not interested. However, Erfurth later delivers the letter anyway.

Mannerheim is not acting alone, as the Finnish Social Democrat government led by President Risto Ryti is dead-set against any advances beyond the old border. Ryti and Mannerheim, after receiving Keitel's letter shortly thereafter, collaborate on a negative reply. There will be no Finnish attack on Leningrad (though this is a sensitive topic to Russians who feel the physical evidence in the city of Finnish artillery shelling indicates otherwise).

This is a decisive moment in World War II. The Finnish Army has been the dominant force in the north, outclassing both its Soviet opponents and its German allies. German troops in the forests and swamps have had mixed success and have little hope of advancing further without Finnish military assistance. Finnish refusal to attack Leningrad from the north means that the Soviet can concentrate all of their defensive forces in the south, effectively doubling their effectiveness.

Finnish and Geman collaboration is far from over. The Finns simply have shown their own limits. From now on, though, their status as "co-belligerents" rather than true German "allies" is unmistakable.

Viipuri Victory Parade, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish forces held a victory ceremony in Viipuri/Vyborg Main Square before the statue of Torkel Knutsson, 31 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

In the Far North sector, Mannerheim orders that Finnish forces attack to the south but stop their advance once they reach a line well short of Leningrad. This line runs from the mouth of the river Rajajoki to Ohta and actually is slightly beyond the old border - which Mannerheim has requested and received permission from the government to do in order to achieve the best defensible positions (Minister of War Lt. General Walden also supports this). Ryti's government demands in exchange for this slight concession that Germany supply 25,000 tons of rye in order to support Finland keeping all of its men at the front (this is a continuing theme in Finnish/German relations throughout the war). Mannerheim leaves the exact line in between those two points unsaid in order to give his troops local flexibility on seizing the most advantageous defensive points (hills, rivers, marshes, etc.).

A quick look at the map shows that Mannerheim's line represents a shortened front between the Baltic and Lake Ladoga while avoiding Soviet fortifications on the outskirts of Leningrad (the 22nd Karelian Fortified Region, or KaUR). Mannerheim's specificity on stopping along a specific line avoids incidents encountered previously in other sectors in which some Finnish troops refused to cross the old border. The troops now are reassured that they are not advancing endlessly into the Soviet Union and thus feel more confident in advancing slightly into the USSR. Finnish 12th Division reaches the town of Kivennapa south of Viipuri on the old border today but continues advancing beyond pursuant to Mannerheim's orders.

Soviet troops are in disarray on the Karelian Isthmus. Having lost Viipuri, they stream back toward Leningrad and prepare to make a stand in the Stalin Line anchored by the KaUR. On the other side of Leningrad, the Germans continue to advance but still do not have a tight line around the city.

Viipuri, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Street scene in Viipuri, 31 August 1941.

In the Army Group North sector, the final Soviet troops evacuate from Tallinn and the Germans complete their capture of the city. The Soviets counterattack at Mga and retake it. The Germans complete the capture of Novgorod north of Lake Ilmen, providing a secure "block" on the eastern flank of Army Group North. Moscow radio announces in its usual vague wording that "the enemy is at the approaches of Leningrad." The Leningrad government puts up posters throughout the city saying "The Enemy is at the Gates." The city is prepared for a siege, with sandbags in store windows and everyone mobilized to help in the defense.

In the Army Group Center sector, General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 and Second Army continue trying to drive south to Kiev against fierce resistance from Soviet Bryansk Front. The Soviets are counterattacking and have stopped the Germans for the moment. Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov reports:
The offensive on Roslavl' by the Reserve Front's 43rd Army is developing successfully. However, the enemy is bringing forces up for an attack from the south. Consequently, it is necessary to speed up the preparations for the 50th Army's offensive and to begin it on 1 September or, in the last resort, on 2 September, in order to assist the 43rd Army's attack and prevent the enemy from concentrating forces against it. The 50th Army must continuously and energetically continue reconnaissance with reinforced battalions along the front.
The German defenders at Yelnya are under extreme pressure but continue holding their positions. Field Marshal von Bock does not have reinforcements at hand due to the diversion of Panzer Group 2 to Kiev.

In the Army Group South sector, the Wehrmacht opens the offensive toward Rostov by building a pontoon bridge over the Dneipr. LII Corps (General of the Kavalrie von Briesen) captures a bridge at Derievka just south of Kremenchug.

Viipuri Victory Parade, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish troops in Viipuri celebrating its capture, 31 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

European Air Operations: During the day, RAF Bomber Command sends 30 Blenheim bombers against several targets. Twelve bombers attack the Lille power station, while the RAF sends six bombers against each of several targets: Lannion airfield, St-Omer airfield, and Le Trait Shipyards. The weather is poor, so some of the bombers choose other targets that they can see. In addition, three Flying Fortresses bomb Bremen. All of the bombers then return safely.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command attacks Cologne and Essen despite the poor weather. There are 103 bombers (45 Wellingtons, 39 Hampdens, 7 Halifaxes, 6 Manchesters, and 6 Stirlings) over Cologne, with an additional five Manchesters on searchlight-suppression missions. The RAF loses 3 Hampdens, one Manchester, and one Wellington over the city, and another Wellington shot down over England by a Luftwaffe intruder. Accuracy is very poor, and only 68 bombers actually release bombs over the city. There is one death in the city, suggesting that most of the bombers miss it completely.

The night's secondary target is Essen. The 43 Whitleys and 28 Wellingtons sent there lose only one Whitely and accomplish very little due to the cloud cover. Only a handful of people are killed and ten injured.

In addition, the RAF sends 6 Wellingtons over Boulogne and 12 Hampdens on minelaying at Kiel Bay and the Frisian Islands. There is one Wellington lost.

The Luftwaffe attacks Hull after dark. A bomb hits a shelter and causes many casualties. Approximately 200 homes are destroyed and 38 people are killed.

Soviet marines, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Marines (Naval Infantry) of the Baltic Fleet, 31 August 1941.

Battle of the Baltic: The German 5th R-Boat Flotilla lays 32 mines between German minefield Juminda and Finnish minefield Valkjarvi during the night. This was the scene of over 20 Soviet ships hitting mines and sinking recently during the evacuation of Tallinn.

A total of 164 Soviet vessels reach Kronstadt out of roughly 200 that participate in the Tallinn evacuation - the rest are at the bottom of the Baltic. The four convoys carry 28,000 troops and civilian evacuees - many thousands either drowned or were rescued along the way. The convoy escorts now change missions and provide shore bombardment in support of ground troops defending Leningrad.

Viipuri Victory Parade, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish troops in Viipuri celebrating its capture, 31 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

Battle of the Atlantic
: This is one of the few days of this stage of World War II when no ships are reported sunk for any reasons in the Atlantic.

The ships of Operation Dervish, the first British convoy to the Soviet Union, reach Archangel. It includes six freighters an oiler escorted by aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, heavy cruisers Devonshire and Suffolk, and several destroyers. Four Soviet destroyers greet the convoy at sea and guide it in.

For the month of August 1941, total Allied shipping losses edge up slightly, from 109,276 tons in July to 125,550 tons in August. Imports to - which now include the Soviet Union for the first time - edge up as well, from 3,765,724 tons to 4,002,450 tons. Allied losses to U-boats are down from 94,209 tons to 80,310 tons, but that is counterbalanced by increased losses to the Luftwaffe (from 9275 tons to 23,862 tons). Losses to mines fall from 8583 tons to 1400 tons, which is the lowest point of the war and also the lowest until August 1942.

The Allies lose 36 ships of 103,452 tons in the Atlantic and 5 ships of 27,247 tons in the Mediterranean. The Axis (primarily Italy) loses 11 ships of 52,538 tons in the Mediterranean, most on the vital convoy route from Naples to Tripoli which the Royal Navy knows all about and where it maintains patrols. RAF bombers based on Malta also are becoming more effective against Axis shipping. The Kriegsmarine loses four U-boats (which includes U-570, which is captured and the crew made prisoners of war) but has a new high of 65 available in the Atlantic.

Viipuri Victory Parade, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish troops at Viipuri celebrating its capture, 31 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

Battle of the Mediterranean: The Luftwaffe attacks Alexandria shortly before midnight. There are two deaths of Royal Navy officers and an officer is wounded, along with numerous other casualties. Damage to the port itself and shipping is minimal.

An Italian convoy of three large liners (Neptunia, Oceania, and Victoria) being used as transports, escorted by six destroyers, departs from Tripoli bound for Taranto. Royal Navy submarine HMS Upholder (Lt Cdr Wanklyn) attacks the convoy but misses. Another Italian convoy of five freighters and a mine-ship also departs from Tripoli bound for Naples.

Dutch submarine O.21 spots an Italian submarine in the Tyrrhenian Sea and makes an unsuccessful attack.

Nine Wellington bombers based on Malta attack Tripoli, damaging buildings.

During the month of August, Royal Navy submarines based on Malta sink six ships totaling 50,000 tons, 1 Italian cruiser (Bolzano), and damage 4971-ton freighter Aquitania and perhaps a destroyer.

Battle of the Black Sea: Soviet submarine M-34 spots 4958-ton Italian tanker Tampico off Varna, Bulgaria. It attacks but misses.

The Germans sink several Soviet river warships on the Dneipr:

  • Several Soviet ships are lost in the Dneipr River today:
  • Zhitomar-class river monitor Bobruysk (hit by artillery and scuttled)
  • Auxiliary river guard ship SK-4 Tekrik
  • Trudovoy-class river gunboat Trudovoy (runs aground, is towed off, then hit by panzer tank fire and sunk)

The Soviets are learning through hard experience that river gunboats are no match for shore-based panzers and artillery.

Sighting guns on a Bf-109, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German crew sighting the 20mm cannon on a Bf 109F fighter of JG 54 "Greenhearts" (Grünherz) fighter wing, near Leningrad, Russia, August 1941 (Reiners, Federal Archive, Bild 101I-390-1220-19), 

Partisans: At 07:00, the Jadar Chetnik unit attacks Loznica. The Chetniks take many 18 killed and 93 casualties in total, including leader Lieutenant Colonel Veselin Misita, who is killed. Many Germans surrender (93), and the Chetniks take Loznica. The victors treat the captured Wehrmacht troops humanely, which is not always the case in this region. Those Germans who can get away flee to Banja Koviljača.

While the Chetniks are attacking Loznica, the 25-strong Cer Chetnik Detachment under the command of a regular artillery officer, Captain First Class Dragoslav Račić, attacks the village of Bogatić. This attack does not go as well as the attack on Loznica, as the Germans have reinforcements nearby. The Račić group continues the attack through the day and holds its position through the night.

The subtext behind these two attacks reveals much about the state of the partisan movement in Yugoslavia. The joint attacks take place despite the prohibition by Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović against attacks until there is a popular uprising. Thus, these attacks represent a splintering of the opposition forces in Yugoslavia.

Special Forces: Canadian forces remain in possession of Spitzbergen. Norwegian radio operators on the island continue feeding the Germans on the mainland false information about bad weather, keeping the Luftwaffe at bay. The native Norwegians on the island prepare to be evacuated to England.

Soviet and British troops meeting in Qazvin, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet and British troops meeting in Qazvin, Iran, on or about 31 August 1941.

Iran Invasion: With a ceasefire in effect, fighting is negligible today. The British eye occupying the "open city" of Kermanshah, while the Soviets also continue expanding their presence within their agreed northern zone of influence. Soviet and British troops meet in Qazvin (Kazvin) at Avej Pass. This basically halts the Soviet advance as both sides watch the diplomats try to arrange a final settlement.

The outcome of the campaign is a foregone conclusion, but the Allies want to convert Iran into an ally, not just subdue it. Iran represents a possible supply line (the "Persian Corridor") from the Western Allies to the USSR, and the less opposition within the country to that idea, the better. The stumbling block is Reza Shah Pahlavi, who wishes to protect German, Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian nationals and give them an opportunity to escape. The Allies, of course, want to intern them. The Iranian government, led by new Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Foroughi, doesn't care about protecting Axis nationals and simply wants the war over, so it is an unstable situation in which either someone gives in - or goes.

Finnish troops with captured Soviet gun, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Finnish anti-tank gun crew poses next to a captured Soviet gun, August 1941.

Cuban/Italian Relations: Cuban authorities seize 5441-ton Italian freighter Recca at Havana and rename it Libertad.

British/Australian Relations: Prime Minister Winston Churchill informs new Australian PM Arthur Fadden that he intends to create a new Far East fleet built around capital ships. These ships would be based in Singapore.

British Military: British women serve in a combat role for the first time when a mixed-gender anti-aircraft battery is formed in Richmond Park, London. There are 200 women and 200 men.

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy completes the conversion of Kasuga Maru into an escort carrier named Taiyo at Sasebo, Japan.

Holocaust: At Vilnia, the German SS take 3700 Jews (some sources say 1600), including 2019 women and 817 children, out to Ponar and execute them. This ostensibly is in retaliation for a partisan ambush of a German patrol.

Swiss Homefront: Rationing of cheese is introduced.

American Homefront: Radio show "The Great Gildersleeve" debuts on the NBC Red Network. It airs every Sunday at 18:30 EST. Harold Peary plays Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, a character that originated on "Fibber McGee and Molly. This is an early example of a spinoff program. Peary also stars in the film adaptation of the sitcom.

Harold Peary as Gildersleeve, 31 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Harold Peary as Gildersleeve.


2018

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

August 30, 1941: Operation Acid


Saturday 30 August 1941

Hitler and Mussolini and Goering, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Adolf Hitler with Benito Mussolini (left), Hermann Goering, and Field Marshall Keitel during a visit to the headquarters of Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, 30 August 1941.

Eastern Front: In the Far North sector on 30 August 1941, Finnish troops on the Karelian Isthmus are approaching the old border and capture Raivola. Finnish IV Corps is in the west, II Corps in the center, and I Corps on the eastern side. Marshal Mannerheim issues an order to the three Corps to stop short of the old Soviet fortifications on the other side of the border. The Germans have no say in this and apparently are not even informed. In fact, the Germans still think that the Finns will mount a major assault on Leningrad from the north - which Mannerheim already has decided against.

In the Army Group North sector, the Germans take Mga, about 20 miles southeast of Leningrad. This cuts the last rail link to Leningrad and puts the Wehrmacht in a good position to take Schlusselburg and cut the last road into the city as well.

In the Army Group Center sector, the Soviets resume their counteroffensive against the Wehrmacht's "lightning rod" position at Yelnya. This is resumed in conjunction with other attacks by Western Front and Bryansk Front (General Andrey Eremenko) and thus constitutes the first coordinated Soviet offensive. The German German front holds, but the Soviet troops make an advance of about 10 km on the south flank that threatens encirclement. Field Marshal von Bock has to send 10th Panzer Division (Lt Gen F. Schaal) and an infantry division to prevent a breakthrough.

In the Army Group South sector, Romanian 4th Army resumes its attack on Odessa after blunting a Soviet counterattack on the 29th. However, the Soviet defenders are fighting with desperation, and even retake Kubanka (site of the Romanian artillery) before being driven back before dark. The Germans are displeased with the Romanian tactics, which have no subtlety and resemble the trench warfare of World War I and massive casualties resulting from frontal attacks - but that is exactly the kind of battle the Soviets want.

General Guderian continues trying to break through the Soviet line north of Kiev but faces fierce resistance. The German plan is for Guderian to form an encirclement with Panzer Group 2 (Gen von Kleist) to trap the 850,000 Soviet troops defending Kiev under General Kirponos and Marshal Budenny. German 2nd Army, pushing south to the west of Guderian's troops, approaches Chernigov.

Hitler and Mussolini, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini acknowledge the salutes of the troops at Field Marshal von Brauchitsch's headquarters, 30 August 1941.

European Air Operations: The RAF sends six Blenheim bombers on a Channel sweep during the day, but they are recalled without loss.

After dark, RAF Bomber Command sends 5 Wellingtons and a Stirling to attack Cherbourg docks and two on minelaying off Warnemunde. There are no losses in either mission.

One of the few Luftwaffe lone raiders attacking England hits a balloon cable over the Humber Estuary. The damage causes it to crash into the North Sea. The crew is rescued by a German ship on 4 September.

Voroshilov Regiment, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet soldiers of the Voroshilov Regiment in training, Moscow, 30 August 1941.

Battle of the Baltic: Now that the convoys from Tallinn are safely at Kronstadt (more or less), the Soviet Baltic Fleet provides gunfire support to the Leningrad Front. The force is organized into three groups:
  • Group 1 (three destroyers and three gunboats) operating in the Neva River to support Soviet 42nd and 55th Armies south of Leningrad
  • Group 2 (two cruisers, destroyer leader Leningrad, five destroyers, and one minelayer) supporting troops east of Leningrad
  • Group 3 (two battleships, cruiser Kirov (recently damaged), a destroyer leader, four destroyers, two additional damaged destroyers, and a gunboat) supporting troops defending the Kronstadt naval base on Kotlin Island.

Soviet 3974-ton transport VT-505/Ivan Pananin runs aground on Suusaari (Hogland Island). There it offers a tempting target for Luftwaffe bombers, which destroy it.

German shore artillery shells and sinks Soviet MO-4-class patrol boat MO-202.

Soviet MO-2-class patrol boats No. 173 and 174 are lost today, perhaps due to German shore-based artillery as well.

After dark, the German 5th R-Boat Flotilla lays 32 mines between minefield Juminda and Finnish minefield Valkjarvi.

Sheltering a child from artillery in Russia, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A Russian woman tries to shelter her baby while Axis forces shell the small village of Krasnaya Sloboda. August 30th, 1941.

Battle of the Atlantic: Off of the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway, Royal Navy submarine HMS Trident (Cdr Sladen) comes upon a convoy of German freighters and goes to work. He torpedoes and sinks:
  • 2931-ton freighter Donau II
  • 8561-ton freighter Bahia Laura 
There are 700+ German soldier deaths and 1289 survivors taken aboard multiple other ships in the convoy. The troops were destined for Mountain Corps Norway.

Operation Strength, a Royal Navy delivery of 24 Hurricanes to the Soviet Air Force at Vaenga by HMS Argus, begins. Argus, escorted by heavy cruiser Shropshire and destroyers, departs from Scapa Flow bound for Seidisfjord.

Convoy Dervish, the first supply convoy to the Soviet Union, arrives at Spitsbergen. There it refuels before proceeding on to Archangel.

Convoy WS-11 (Winston Special) departs from Liverpool bound (eventually) for Colombo and Singapore, where it arrives on 6 November. Convoy ON-11 departs from Liverpool, Convoy SC-42 (65 ships) departs from Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia bound for Liverpool.

US Navy battleship USS New Mexico leads Task Group TG1.1.2 out of Hvalfjord, Iceland to patrol the Denmark Strait. This is due to a report of a suspicious vessel (presumed to be a German Hipper-class cruiser) between there and Bermuda by US Coast Guard cutter Alexander Hamilton. The thinking is that it is a German ship returning from a raiding expedition which will seek to use the Denmark Strait to return to Norway. What exactly the Task Group would do if it spotted such a ship is a bit unclear - typically, they are just supposed to notify the Royal Navy, but that is a lot of firepower available just to use the radio.

A German blockade runner, 8306-ton tanker Benno (formerly Norwegian Ole Jacob), departs from Bordeaux, France bound for Kobe, Japan.

Royal Navy sloop HMS Ibis (Lt. Commander Henry M. Darell-Brown) is commissioned and sloop Cygnet is laid down.

Canadian minesweeper HMCS Quinte is commissioned.

U-136 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Zimmermann), U-213 (Oberleutnant zur See Amelung von Varendorff), and U-435 (Kapitänleutnant Siegfried Strelow) are commissioned, U-253 is launched, and U-305 is laid down.

Clark Gable, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Clark Gable, Movie-radio Guide Magazine [United States] (30 August 1941). Gable would be in uniform and flying bomber missions within two years.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Unbeaten (Lt Woodward) uses its deck gun to sink 373-ton Italian auxiliary patrol boat V.51/Alfa off Augusta, Sicily.

RAF Swordfish based on Malta of No. 830 Squadron torpedo and sink 861-ton Italian freighter Egadi about 30 miles northeast of Lampedusa.

The RAF attacks Tripoli with 9 Wellington bombers and they sink:

  • 6630-ton Italian freighter RIV
  • 395-ton Italian freighter Neptunus
  • 367-ton Italian freighter Giuseppina V
  • 393-ton Italian freighter Fiametta

Royal Navy submarine Talisman torpedoes and damages Italian auxiliary patrol boats San Michele and Tenacemente about three miles north of Benghazi.

Australian minesweeper HMAS Ballarat (Lt. Alfred D. Barling) is commissioned.

Australian Women's Weekly, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Australian Women's Weekly, 30 August 1941.

Special Operations: After dark, Operation Acid, a British Commando raid, begins. No. 5 Commando sends two separate teams, each composed of one officer and 14 soldiers, to separate beaches in the Pas-de-Calais, France (Hardelot and Merlimont). The Commandos perform reconnaissance and try to capture a German sentry. However, the Commandos do not encounter any Germans and leave after 30 minutes.

Operation Gauntlet, the Royal Navy raid on Spitzbergen, continues without any interference from the Germans. The Norwegian operators of the radio station keep the Luftwaffe away by sending false reports of heavy fog to the mainland, and the Canadians quickly capture any ships that appear. Overall, the raid is a resounding success, and the Canadian troops continue destroying mining equipment and rendering the island useless to the Germans.

Iran Invasion: With a ceasefire in effect while the opposing parties dicker over terms of an armistice, the Soviets occupy the "open city" of Qazvin. This is 94 miles (151 km) from Tehran. The Soviets also take the "non-open" city of Hamadan after some light bombing that kills a small child.

The Soviet troops remain on the move throughout the day, while the British are content to stop and allow negotiations to play out. The Soviets and British have agreed beforehand to occupy their respective spheres of influence contained in a 1908 agreement, so there is little point to being aggressive at this point - as long as the British and Soviets trust each other. Elements of Indian 10th Infantry Division enter Kermanshah.

Soviet and British troops meet at Sinneh.

Parade for Queen Wilhelmina on Aruba, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Parade for Queen Wilhelmina's birthday on Aruba by the 4th Cameron Highlanders, 30 August 1941 (Ingleby Jefferson).

Italian/Japanese Relations: Italy has learned through press reports of Ambassador Nomura's meeting with President Roosevelt on the 29th, so Italian Ambassador to the US Don Ascanio dei principi Colonna meets with Ambassador Nomura. Nomura tries to fob him off with generalities about the meeting, but Colonna is not satisfied. Nomura then adds that Japan would continue to abide by the Tripartite Pact, but was simply trying to avoid war in the Pacific. Nomura later, however, cables Tokyo and states that he successfully maintained secrecy about the true nature of Prince Konoye's note to President Roosevelt, including the proposed summit meeting.

German/Japanese Relations: Tokyo sends a message to Berlin stating that Ambassador Nomura had simply carried on informal discussions with Secretary Hull and then submitted a note to President Roosevelt whose contents had been revealed to the world press. However, the statements by Japan and the US did not reveal the true contents of Prince Konoye's message to Roosevelt, so this remains a secret from Japan's allies.

German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop asks his Japanese counterpart, Soemu Toyoda, if the Japanese would be willing to attack the Soviet port of Vladivostok. The Japanese already have decided against this, but Toyoda responds that Japan indeed is preparing for such an attack but just needs a little more time.

New York Times, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Dictators in 5-Day Parley Form Plans to Counter Our Aid in East and West," New York Times, 30 August 1941.

German/Romanian Relations: The Germans and Romanians reach agreements on Romanian administration of Transnistria - which would include Odessa.

British/Soviet Relations: Joseph Stalin receives a message from Winston Churchill which is very fulsome and promises continued aid. Specifically, Churchill promises that two RAF squadrons of 40 aircraft will arrive at Murmansk by 6 September along with 200 P-40 Tomahawk fighters, and perhaps 200 more Hurricanes later for a total of 440 fighters. Churchill, unaware of the furious US/Japanese negotiations in progress, also notes that President Roosevelt "seems disposed... to take a strong line against further Japanese aggression."

F4F Wildcat, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Grumman XF4F-4 BuNo 1897 (F4F Wildcat), 30 August 1941. These served with the RAF and were called "Martlets." The first Martlets with folding wings ("Sto-Wing folding system") were delivered as Market Mk IIs in August 1941. (US Air Force).

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy requisitions 6353-ton freighter Kogyo Maru for conversion into an ammunition ship.

Requisitioned 10,439-ton Hokoku Maru begins its conversion into an armed merchant cruiser with the installation of four 6-inch (152-mm) guns and other equipment.

American Homefront: "Dive Bomber," directed by Michael Curtiz ("Casablanca") and starring Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray, is released by Warner Bros. It is a technicolor war drama that contains a lot of footage of US aircraft and aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. The US Department of the Navy gives its full cooperation and requests that it be made and released as soon as possible for recruiting purposes. The new SBD Dauntless dive bomber is featured. Filming takes place at Eglin Field, Florida, North Field at NAS San Diego and Naval Station San Diego, California. "Dive Bomber" becomes the sixth most popular film of 1941 and Warner Bros.' top earner for the year.

"Green Eyes" (Aquellos Ojos Verdes) by Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra with Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell hits No. 1 on the Billboard chart. It is Jimmy Dorsey's fourth Number One hit of 1941 - and not his last, either.

The New Yorker, 30 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The New Yorker, 30 August 1941 (cover by Garrett Price).

2018

Monday, August 6, 2018

August 29, 1941: Finns take Viipuri


Friday, 29 August 1941

German troops and their Zeltbahn tent, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German soldiers eating in front of their Zeltbahn tent, August 1941.

Iran Invasion: A ceasefire is in effect in Iran as new Prime Minister Mohammed Foroughi discusses a settlement with the British and Soviets. A key question is what happens to German and Italian nationals present in Tehran. Foroughi basically agrees with the Allies that all Axis nationals should be handed over to the Allies and the German, Italian, Romanian, and Hungarian legations expelled. However, the decision is up to Reza Shah, and he prefers to allow them the Axis nationals and their families to escape.

The negotiations take on a weird slant because Foroughi fundamentally opposes Reza Shah's rule (Foroughi had been dismissed from a previous appointment as prime minister in 1935 due to family connections with an anti-reform riot in Mashhad). Basically, Foroughi views an Allied takeover as "liberation" from Reza Shah. Thus, in effect, Foroughi simply wants to surrender, let the Allies have whatever they want, and doesn't care what happens to Reza Shah or the Axis nationals. At least on his end, it is not an adversarial negotiation.

Reza Shah has different goals. He thus becomes the major stumbling block to a quick settlement, being the only one who wants to protect some semblance of Iranian sovereignty. The issue becomes critical because the Soviets have no time to waste and simply want to occupy their half of the country and get back to fighting the Germans. They also are eager to open up as quickly as possible an "Iranian corridor" for Allied supplies safe from Axis submarines and Luftwaffe attacks. The British are more patient because the Qajar dynasty has served their interests over the years, but the Soviets are in a better position to take Tehran - which gives their wishes a little more emphasis.

Finnish troops fire a mortar, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish troops fire a mortar, 29 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

Eastern Front: In his war diary, OKH Chief of Staff General Franz Halder confesses that "We still have no clear idea what the enemy is up to." This is the truest statement of the war. Halder notes in his entry total casualties for Operation Barbarossa through 13 August 1941:

  • Wounded: 9,516 officers and 277,472 NCOs and soldiers
  • Killed: 3,874 officers and 79,643 NCOs and soldiers
  • Missing: 362 officers and 18,957 NCOs and soldiers

Total casualties to date are 389,924, or 11.4% of the initial strength of the Eastern Army.

In the Far North sector, Soviet forces at Viipuri (Vyborg) receive orders to retreat. Finnish 4th and 8th Infantry Divisions march into the city unopposed. One of the first things that the Finnish troops do is to raise a flag (actually, since they can't find a flag, they use a soldier's shirt) over the medieval castle's main tower. The flag that flew over the tower when the Finns handed the city over to the Soviets at the end of the Winter War is soon found and raised again (the flag is now in the central War Museum at Helsinki).

The Soviet troops are gone, but they remain intact and undefeated. They also have left many "presents" for the Finns throughout Viipuri in the form of boobytraps and time bombs. The news of the capture (or, recapture) electrifies the nation and is probably the happiest day of the entire war for the people of Finland. The Finns also make further advances in the direction of Leningrad, capturing Terioki, which is about 30 miles north of the city. They also cut the railroad running to Leningrad along the northwestern shore of Lake Ladoga. All of these successes, however, only bring the moment of truth closer in which they will have to tell the Germans that they will not attack Leningrad.

In the Army Group North sector, German troops complete the occupation of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Elsewhere, the front is relatively quiet due to poor weather. German troops are approaching the outer line of Leningrad's fortifications, but progress is slow all across the front. General Halder notes hopefully that "The Finns are making encouraging progress on Leningrad from the north." He does not realize yet that Field Marshal Mannerheim has no intention of actually attacking the city.

In the Army Group Center sector, General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 is counterattacked from both the west and east as he tries to break out from his bridgehead across the Desna River. General Halder, however, has no sympathy, noting in his diary that:
It is all Guderian's own fault. He devised this plan of attack and even the most naive enemy could not be expected to stand by passively while an enemy flank is pounding past his front. 
Halder's real beef with Guderian is lingering anger over the latter's failure to convince Hitler to focus on Moscow rather than Kiev. Halder is correct about tactics, of course, as a lateral movement along the front does, invariably, invite a flank attack. Guderian is struggling toward Konotop, the first stop on his way to a junction with Panzer Group 1 to the east of Kiev.

In the Army Group South sector, the Soviets encircled at Odessa mount a fierce counterattack. They manage to push back the Romanian 4th, 11th, and 1st Army Corps in the area of Gnileakovo and Vakarzhany and give themselves a little breathing room. The Axis forces, however, remain in control and prepare to resume their own attacks on the 30th.

Spitfire with battle damage, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Spitfire MkIIB, UZ-N, P8342, after the sortie on 29 August 1941. Sgt Machowiak shot down a Bf109 on that flight, in return being shot up himself - note visible damaged on the empennage.

European Air Operations: Weather is poor throughout the day and night, so not as much is accomplished as the RAF probably wished. During the day, the RAF sends 6 Blenheim bombers on a Circus mission to Hazebrouck and one to Dusseldorf. There are no losses, but the bombers achieve very little because out of all seven bombers, only one releases its bombs over its target (Hazebrouck).

After dark, RAF Bomber Command mounts raids on perennial favorites Frankfurt and Mannheim. It is a big night, with a maximum effort in the air. RAF raids still do not match the size of Luftwaffe raids at their peak, but RAF bombers tend to be larger than Luftwaffe bombers with larger bomb loads, so just looking at raw numbers of bombers can be deceptive.

Against Frankfurt, RAF Bomber Command sends 143 bombers (73 Hampdens, 62 Whitleys, 5 Halifaxes, and 3 Manchesters). This is the first 100-bomber raid on Frankfurt. The targets are railway installations and the harbor area. This raid is the first in which an Australian squadron, No. 455 (Squadron Leader French) participates. Two Hampdens and a Whitley are lost. Due to the poor weather accuracy is impossible, and the results reflect this. Some lucky hits damage a gasworks, but most of the bombs drop either aimlessly on vacant ground or on some houses. There are 8 deaths, 7 in a single house that is hit.

Against Mannheim, RAF Bomber Command sends 94 Wellington bombers, of which two are lost. The weather affects results here as well, with only minor and scattered damage. There is one injury.

Attacks on the French coast have become training exercises as much as real attacks due to their close proximity and the ease of locating the targets. Tonight, five Wellington bombers attack Le Havre without loss.

Downed Spitfire, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
RAF Spitfire forced to make an emergency landing after an air-to-air combat, Westende, 29 August 1941. (Photo CegeSoma, N° 12.999).

Battle of the Baltic
: The Baltic is littered with sinking and sunk Soviet ships from the evacuation convoys that left Tallinn. Destroyer Yakov Sverdlov, damaged on the 28th, goes under today, having been mined along with many other ships off Cape Juminda. Overall, about 30 of 200 Soviet vessels have been lost in one of the greatest naval disasters of the war.

Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-88s from II/KG77 and KGR806 return to the attack today after having had great success on the 28th. They again attack the Soviet convoys, now off Suursaari (Hogland Island). They hit several Soviet ships:
  • 3974-ton freighter VT-543/Vtoraya Pyatiletka (beached)
  • 1207-ton freighter VT-550/Siaulia (beached)
  • 5920-ton repair ship Serp I Molot (beached)
  • 2675-ton Soviet transport Tobol (sunk) 
  • freighter VT-523/Kazakhstan (makes it to Kronstadt)
VT-523/Kazakhstan barely makes it to port, and only does so after disembarking 2300 out of 5000 fleeing troops on board at Steinskar. The beached ships usually are destroyed quickly by the Luftwaffe, but at least most of the passengers can reach shore.

Other German aircraft are in operation and hit additional ships in the Soviet evacuation convoys:
  • 2317-ton transport VT-581/Lake Lucerne (sunk)
  • Soviet transport Sigulda (sunk off Lavansaari Island)
  • 2414-ton transport VT-529/Skrunda (damaged near Suursaari, sinks on the 30th)
  • Soviet transport VT-520/Evald (sunk off Mohni Island)
  • 1423-ton transport VT-563/Atis Kronvaldis (sunk off Lavansaari Island)
  • 1791-ton VT-546/Ausma (sunk off Lavansaari Island)
  • 206-ton transport VT-537/Ergonauts (sunk off Lavansaari Island)
In addition, another Soviet ship, transport VT-501/Balhash, hits a mine off of Lavansaari Island and sinks. Estonian 1879-ton transport Naissaar has especially bad luck. First, it hits a mine east of Mohni Island, Estonia, then the Luftwaffe finds it and sinks it.

There are scenes of chaos. For example, fully loaded 2026-ton passenger ship/freighter Vironia, bombed and damaged on the 28th, is taken in tow by Saturn. However, then Saturn hits a mine and has to release the tow. In the early morning hours of the 29th, Vironia drifts into a mine off Cape Juminda and sinks within five minutes. There are 1300 deaths.

The Soviets know that a disaster is happening offshore, of course, and organize a rescue operation composed of anything that floats on Suursaari. They sail out under the command of Captain G. Svayskov in a dozen old minesweepers, a division of patrol boats, six motor torpedo boats, eight submarine chasers, two tugs, four motorboats, two cutters, and rescue ship Meteor. It is a motley collection, but the ships float and manage to rescue 12,160 Soviet troops who otherwise would drown. Soviet submarine SHCH-322 accompanies the rescue ships but is lost at sea - presumably due to hitting a mine in the same minefield off Juminda Point.

The Germans and Finns know about the Soviet disaster as well. Finnish minelayers add another 24 mines to Minefield Juminda. After dark, German 5th R-Boat Flotilla adds another 32 mines between Minefield Juminda and Finnish Minefield Valjarvi - just in case the Soviets get wise to the location of the Juminda minefield (after losing over 30 ships there) and decide to try to sidestep it.

Estonian freighter Naissaar, sunk on 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Naissaar, sunk in the Baltic by the Luftwaffe on 29 August 1941. 

Battle of the Atlantic: Royal Navy destroyer HMS St. Mary's collides with 3244-ton troopship Royal Ulsterman while operating with Convoy SD-10 to the west of Scotland. St. Mary's requires repairs in Greenock and then Liverpool that last until 15 December.

Italian blockade runners 6420-ton Himalaya and 5869-ton Africana reach the Gironde River after their journey from Brazil.

The Royal Navy and US Neutrality patrols have been fruitlessly searching for a reported German heavy cruiser in the North Atlantic for several days. However, today an RAF reconnaissance plane spots the three known German cruisers in the Atlantic - Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen - in port at Brest.

Convoy OG-73 departs from Liverpool bound for Gibraltar, Convoy HX-147 departs from Halifax bound for Liverpool.

Australian Militia, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Members of the Australian Militia based at Wallgrove, New South Wales, enlist in the army during a recruitment rally in Sydney on 29 August 1941 (Sun News/The Sydney Morning Herald).

Battle of the Mediterranean: Operation Treacle concludes as Royal Navy destroyers HMS Griffin and Havock bring the last batch of Polish troops into Tobruk and carry the final group of Australians out. The ships return safely to Alexandria without incident in the early hours of the 30th.

An Italian convoy three troopships (Neptunia, Oceania, and Victoria) departs from Naples for Tripoli by way of Sicily. Royal Navy submarine Urge fires a torpedo at Victoria off Capri but misses. It alerts the Admiralty about the tempting targets, which dispatches fellow submarines Upholder and Ursula from Malta.

Another Italian convoy departs from Tripoli bound for Naples. So, there will be a lot of targets for the British over the next 48 hours.

The Royal Navy begins patrols of the Straits of Gibraltar, hunting for any U-boats making the passage. This patrol involves destroyers Vimy, Midette, and Wild Swan, and corvettes Campanula, Wallflower, Campion, and Hydrangea, along with a couple of motor launches (ML-170 and ML-172).

British freighters Deucalion (7516 tons) and Farndale arrive safely at Gibraltar after sailing from Malta. The Admiralty has stopped any further such indpendent journeys due to the danger.

Fifteen Wellington bombers based on Malta raid Tripoli, reporting hits on both ships and shore targets. The RAF conducts daily raids on the North African coast, but the British do not publicize these raids because they want to keep the Germans confused as to their souce.

Royal Australian Air Force pilot Clive Caldwell, in a P-40 “Tomahawk” of No. 250 Squadron, is flying northwest of Sidi Barrani when he is jumped by two Bf 109E-7s. They badly damage Caldwell's Tomahawk and wound him in the back, left shoulder, and leg. However, he manages to maneuver into position to shoot one of the planes down (the wingman of Luftwaffe ace Leutnant Werner Schroer, who watches in bemusement) and nurse his flaming plane back to base. It is incidents such as this that give him the nickname "Killer Caldwell" (a nickname he despises) and make him the top Allied ace in North Africa and of any pilot flying a P-40. Caldwell finishes the war with 28 total victories: 20 German/Italian and 8 Japanese.

Battle of the Black Sea: The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 5117-ton freighter Kamenets-Podolsk between Kerch, Crimea, and Sevastopol.



Wacht Im Sudosten, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German Soldier's Newspaper WACHT IM SÜDOSTEN from August 29, 1941.

Special Operations: Operation Gauntlet, the raid on Spitzbergen and its associated activities, continues. Today, 21,517-ton HMT Empress of Canada offloads the 1800 Russian coalminers that it evacuated from Spitzbergen to two Soviet ships that meet it off the Dvina lightship. Empress of Canada then returns to Spitzbergen to join light cruiser HMS Aurora, carrying 200 Free French escaped prisoners of war who managed to make it across the lines.

RAF Bomber Command conducts its first flights in support of Resistance groups. RAF No. 138 Squadron of No. 3 Group, newly formed, is based at Newmarket and conducts the operations. These are clandestine operations, and that extends to opaque records available about how many planes are sent, where they go, and what they do. Typically, the missions are made by Lysanders or other light aircraft that can land in fields and quickly take off again after accomplishing whatever they were sent to do. This typically involves dropping agents by parachute, picking up or leaving small packages, or landing in a remote spot during the night to pick up a returning agent or downed RAF crew.

Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, a member of the French Resistance executed on 29 August 1941.

Partisans: The count Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, codenamed "Jean-Pierre Girard," and 25 other members of the French resistance network "Nemrod" are executed at dawn at the Fort du Mont Valérien. They were betrayed by their radio operator, Alfred Gaessler, who became a double agent. Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, an associate of Charles de Gaulle and a leader of the group, is buried in Verrières-le-Buisson. The Germans advertise the executions throughout Paris as an "example," and this leads other Frenchmen to join the Resistance.

US/Japanese Relations: Both the Japanese and the Americans wish to keep their negotiations out of the press for a variety of reasons. These include the effect on public opinion in Japan and the reactions of their allies. This has led to some unhelpful incidents, such as Winston Churchill making bellicose statements directed at Japan during a radio address, but, on the whole, it has succeeded. Today, however, some cracks appear in the curtain of secrecy. The New York Times prints a story that notes the meeting between Ambassador Nomura and President Roosevelt on the 28th, and the Japanese release some details from the diplomatic note given to Roosevelt at that meeting. The Japanese accuse the Americans of publicizing the meeting in order to alienate them from their German and Italian allies - who are completely oblivious to the negotiations - tell Nomura that henceforth he must consult with the Foreign Office before releasing any public statements.

Overall, Tokyo is pleased with the slight movement in negotiations that resulted from Nomura's visit with Roosevelt. However, Nomura is instructed to avoid any meetings on US soil - which apparently does not include Hawaii or Alaska - and that a meeting at sea would be acceptable, too.

French/Laotian/Japanese Relations: A final agreement, the Franco-Laotian Treaty of Protectorate, puts the finishing touches on the brief border war earlier in 1941 between Thailand and French Indochina. Vichy French Admiral Jean Decoux, Governor General of Indochina and King Sisavang Vong of Louangphrabang sign the agreement. This affirms the status of Laos as a protectorate of Vichy, recognizes the transfer of territory to Thailand, and adds the provinces of Vientiane, Xiangkhoang, and Louang Namtha to Laos. Japan acts as the "honest broker" in the negotiations.

Japanese Military: The Imperial Japanese Navy requisitions 10,439-ton freighter Hokoku Maru. The IJN also begins converting 8691-ton Hoyo Maru and 5350-ton freighter Bangkok Maru, the former into an auxiliary tanker and the latter into an armed merchant cruiser.

US Military: Jack Heyn enlists in the in the United States Army Air Corps in Omaha, Nebraska. Heyn becomes a top war photographer, memorializing events in the Pacific Theater.

New Prime Minister Arthur Fadden, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
New Prime Minister Arthur Fadden at Parliament House, 29 August 1941.

Australian Government: Arthur Fadden of the Country Party officially becomes Australia's 13th Prime Minister. Former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, who resigned due to lack of support within his own party, stays on as Minister for Defense Coordination.

Serbian State Guard, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Members of the Serbian State Guard, an organization founded on 29 August 1941.

Serbian Homefront: General Milan Nedic is chosen to lead the Germans' revamped puppet government, the Government of National Salvation. This succeeds he Commissioner Government. The completes the partition of Serbia. Nedic institutes the Serbian State Guard, a paramilitary organization designed to maintain control within the puppet state. The Serbian State Guard assists in executions at Banjica Concentration camp in Belgrade.

Middletown, Connecticut fire, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A fire on Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut causes damage to five companies and injures five men. The State Police and National Guard are called to help put out the fire.

American Homefront: Charles Lindbergh addresses an America First rally in Oklahoma City. He warns that Great Britain could turn against the United States "as she has turned against France and Finland." Montana Senator Burton K. Wheeler speaks next and chastises Great Britain for its treatment of India, stating:
If our interventionists want to free a country from the dominion of another country, we ought to declare war on Great Britain to free India. I have never seen such slavery as I saw in India a few years ago.
Lindbergh and Wheeler are fighting against the tide, as Gallup public opinion polling suggests that more of the public is beginning to accept President Roosevelt's interventionist policies.

"Sun Valley Serenade," starring Sonja Henie, Milton Berle, and Glenn Miller, goes into wide release. It features "Chattanooga Cho Choo," which is the top record of 1941 and sells a million copies. Originally, "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was the B side to "I Know Why," but radio Deejays simply flipped the disc over and played the song that they preferred. The song is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996. "Chattanooga Choo Choo" features skiing scenes that help with recruitment for the embryonic 10th Mountain Division stationed at Camp Hale, Colorado.

Paramount Pictures releases "Flying Blind," a war comedy/action film starring Richard Arlen and Jean Parker. This is a typical entry from Pine-Thomas Productions which costs very little to make ($90,000) but returns big profits (gross of $500,000+). The film has some interesting stock aerial footage, such as of a Lockheed 12A Junior Electra, Boeing 247, and Douglas DC-3.

Future History: Robin Douglas Leach is born in Perivale, London. He becomes a reporter for a local paper, then moves on to the Daily Mail at age 18 as a "Page One" reporter. He moves to the United States in 1963 and writes for entertainment magazines such as "People." Robin Leach begins contributing to TV station KABC-TV program AM Los Angeles, interacting with hosts Regis Philbin and Sarah Purcell, and goes on to a variety of other television projects. He is best known for hosting "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" from 1984 to 1995. Robin Leach remains a powerful figure in the entertainment industry despite suffering a stroke in November 2017.

Orestes Matacena is born in Havana, Cuba. As a teenager, Matacena joins a resistance group fighting to overthrow Fidel Castro. After emigrating to the United States in 1964, he becomes an American film character actor, writer, producer, and director most known for "The Mask" (1994). Twelve members of the Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, in 1992 award Orestes Matacena commendations for bravery for giving chase to a burglary suspect, apprehending him, and holding him for police.

Sibylle Bergemann is born in Berlin, German Reich. She becomes a top East German photographer and founds the Ostkreuz photography agency in 1990. She becomes a member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin in 1994. She has 12 prints in the public collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Bergemann passes away on 2 November 2010.

Kamenets-Podolski report, 29 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A report by SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln dated 29 August 1941 which details executions of "about 20,000" Hungarian Jews at the village of Kamenetz-Podolski on 27/28 August 1941.

2018

Saturday, August 4, 2018

August 28, 1941: Evacuating Soviets Savaged


Thursday 28 August 1941

German soldiers in Tallinn, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
German soldiers enter Tallinn, Estonia, 28 August 1941 (colorized).

Iran Invasion: The British/Russian invasion of Iran continues on 28 August 1941 without much interference from the defending Iranian Army. In central Iran, the British reach Shahabad, while the Soviet troops in Gilan province force the defending Iranians to surrender after several days of hard fighting. The Soviets take Mashhad after taking heavy casualties.

Not everything is easy for the Allies. At Ahvaz, the entry to the Zagros Mountains, Iranian forces are dug in and the Indian troops facing them decide to wait for developments elsewhere before attacking. In the Soviet sector, Iranian diehards make a stands at Ramsar. However, the Iranian military is in a shambles, with only isolated units holding out while others simply allow themselves to be bypassed and taken prisoner.

The Red Air Force bombs Tehran and drops leaflets urging surrender. While there are few casualties and there is no likelihood of the capital falling any time soon, everyone knows that the Allies are on their way. The royal family, with the exception of Reza Shah and Crown Prince, leave for Isfahan. When the Shah learns that his generals have been discussing surrender, he throws their ringleader to prison.

Ali Furughi forms a new government after the resignation of the previous Prime Minister on 27 August. He immediately begins negotiations for a surrender and orders a cease-fire, stating that this is:
... in pursuance of the peace‑loving policy of His Majesty, [Iran] is issuing orders to all armed forces of the country to refrain from any resistance so that the causes for bloodshed and disturbance of security shall be removed and public peace and security assured.
The Iranian troops have barely been resisting anyway except in a few key areas, so this cease-fire order is easy to carry out. This order effectively ends hostilities in Iran.

Finnish submarine Vesikko, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Finnish submarine Vesikko (CV 707), 28 August 1941 (SA-Kuva).

Eastern Front: General Franz Halder, Chief of Staff of OKH, summarizes the army's appreciation of Soviet military strength. He notes that German units have identified 110 Soviet divisions, which equal 66 German divisions in real strength (Soviet divisions being smaller than those in the Wehrmacht), and an addition 40 divisions as a Soviet reserve. He writes that 19 of the 40 Soviet reserve divisions have had to be thrown into the line at Velikie Luki, leaving only 19 Soviet divisions as a reserve. The Germans are drastically underestimating Soviet reserve strength, as they will do throughout the war.

Halder is optimistic about the Wehrmacht's supply situation. He writes that the army expects to bring two panzer divisions and a motorized division up to full strength "Within six days," with another two-division panzer corps also being brought up to full strength within nine days. All of the panzer divisions have suffered serious losses since the beginning of Operation Barbarossa and are at between 20-60% of their original strength.

In the Far North sector, the Finnish forces which have crossed the Vuoksi River encircle the remnants of Soviet 43rd, 115th, and 123rd Rifle Divisions which had counterattacked the bridgehead. The Soviets are trapped in the villages of Sommee and Porlampi with little or no hope of rescue. However, the terrain is rough, full of swamps and forests, and the Soviets begin sneaking out through gaps in the Finnish line.

Elsewhere, Soviet troops facing encirclement also manage to escape destruction. At the narrows at Kayrala, a joint German and Finnish effort to encircle Soviet defenders fails when fierce Soviet defenders manage to keep open an escape route northeast of Nurmi Lake. The Soviet troops escape but they are not out of trouble completely, because they have had to leave their equipment and supplies behind. The Axis divisions are advancing throughout the region and remain in hot pursuit, but at least the fleeing Soviet troops survive to fight another day on the Verman Line.

Finnish troops continue pressuring the Soviet defenses at the port of Hanko in southwestern Finland. The Soviets there are in no danger of being defeated at this time, but they cannot look at the loss of Tallinn to the south in Estonia without realizing this makes their own position even more perilous.

"Freedom fighters" in Tallinn, Estonia, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
"Freedom fighters" in Tallinn, Estonia celebrate the departure of the Soviet military and their "freedom," 28 August 1941.

In the Army Group North sector, the German XLII Corps occupies the Estonian capital of Tallinn (Reval) following the Soviet evacuation of 27 August. South of Lake Ilmen, General von Manstein's panzer corps and affiliated troops make "satisfactory progress," but elsewhere on the front there are "slow advances."

In the Army Group Center sector, Panzer Group 2 and Second Army continue heading south toward Kiev despite heavy counterattacks. Group Stumme is heading toward Toropets.

Late in the morning, the commander of Army Group Center, Field Marshal von Bock, calls up Halder and is "highly excited." Von Bock claims that his defenses at Yelnya and elsewhere are "near breaking point." He warns that it may be necessary for a retreat - which would be highly unusual for the Wehrmacht at this stage of the war. Halder says he will send some reinforcements early in September. Halder also notes a call from General Paulus, who has been inspecting Panzer Group 2. Paulus warns that Guderian is facing stiff resistance and recommends reinforcing General Guderian by taking some units away from the Second Army. Halder rejects this out of hand, reasoning that, since Guderian does not like to be supervised and came up with his plan of attack on his own, it is best to "let him worry how he gets through."

In the Army Group South sector, the Romanians 4th Army at Odessa resumes its offensive. They have been reinforced by a German assault battalion and ten heavy artillery battalions, and the Romanian 4th, 11th, and 1st Army Corps make progress toward Gnileakovo and Vakarzhany. Halder writes that "The enemy situation is obscure."

The Soviets announce the blowing up of the massive Dnieper Hydroelectric Station and dam at Zaporizhia (Zaporozhe) to prevent its capture by the Germans. They blew it up about 20 August 1941, causing many local casualties.

Hermann-Friedrich “Jupp” Joppien, a Luftwaffe ace of I,/JG51  with 70 confirmed victories, including 42 accumulated over the Western Front, is shot down and killed in his Bf 109F-2 near Yelnya, 18 km southwest of Bryansk, by a MiG-3 fighter.

Luftwaffe ace Jupp Joppien, KIA 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Jupp Joppien, KIA 28 August 1941.

European Air Operations: During the day, RAF Coastal Command sends 18 Blenheim bombers against shipping at Rotterdam. The planes report hitting two freighters along with damage to the docks but lose one plane on takeoff and two more during the raid itself.

The night's mission is Duisburg. RAF Bomber Command sends 118 bombers (60 Wellingtons, 30 Hampdens, 13 Stirlings, 9 Halifaxes, and 6 Manchesters) to bomb the railway marshaling yards. The RAF also sends an additional 6 Hampdens to suppress searchlights. There is good visibility, but damage to the city is only moderate, with no deaths or casualties. The RAF loses 6 bombers on the raid and an additional 2 on the searchlight suppression mission.

In addition, the RAF sends 23 bombers (Wellingtons and Whitleys) over Dunkirk and Ostend and an additional 2 training sorties, without loss.

A Blackburn Botha aircraft with a Polish crew crashes into the sea about 500 meters offshore from Rhosnegir after an aborted takeoff from RAF Valley. All three crewmen perish. Two 17-year-old boys who attempt to rescue the crew, John Wood and Derrick Baynham, receive the George Medal. Eleven local men, including the local Police Constable, lose their lives trying to rescue the crew when their boat overturns in rough seas.

Soviet light cruiser Kirov on fire, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Soviet light cruiser Kirov on fire in the Baltic, 28 August 1941.

Battle of the Baltic: The Soviet evacuation from Tallinn only has to cover 150 miles to reach safety at Kronstadt, but those are extremely treacherous miles to traverse. It is a rough day for the Soviets, and many of their 200 ships involved in the four evacuation convoys are lost.

The Luftwaffe attacks the Soviet convoys leaving Tallinn during the day. German planes damage Soviet light cruiser Kirov in the harbor. In the afternoon, Junkers Ju-88 bombers of II/KG77 and KGR806 continue the attacks and hit a handful of fleeing ships:
  • 2250-ton icebreaker Krisyjanis Valdemars (sunk)
  • 2414-ton freighter V-529/Skrunda (sunk)
  • 2317-ton freighter VT-581/Lake Lucerne (sunk)
  • 1423-ton freighter VT-563/Atis Kronvaldis (sunk)
  • 2026-ton staff ship Vironia (damaged).
When staff ship Vironia tries to return to Tallinn (Reval), it hits a mine and also sinks.

Things only get worse after dark, when the main Soviet evacuation convoys also blunder into the German minefield off Juminda:
  • Soviet destroyer Artyom (Artem) (sunk)
  • Soviet destroyer Kalinin, Volodarsky (sunk)
  • Soviet destroyer Yakov Sverdlov (sunk)
  • Patrol ship Sneg
  • Patrol ship Tsiklon
  • Patrol ship Jupiter
  • Rescue ship Saturn
  • Minesweeper T-214
  • Minesweeper T-216
  • Minelayer TTS-56/Barometr
  • Minelayer TTS-71/Krab
  • Minelayer TTS-42/Izhorets-17
  • Submarine SHCH-301
  • Submarine S-5
  • Submarine S-6
  • Destroyer leader Moskva
  • Gunboat Amgun
  • Gunboat I-8
  • Netlayer Vyatka
  • Netlayer Onega
  • Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) TKA-103
  • Submarine Chaser MO-202
  • 1446-ton freighter VT-511/Alev
  • 2758-ton freighter VT-512/Tobol
  • 1363-ton freighter VT-547/Jarvamaa
  • 3251-ton freighter Everita
  • 2329-ton freighter VT-518/Luga
  • 237-ton freighter VT-512/Kumari
  • 2191-ton freighter Balkhash
  • 2917-ton freighter Jana
  • 1839-ton freighter VT-584/Naissaar
  • 206-ton freighter VT-537/Ergonautis
  • 1522-ton freighter VT-530/Ella
  • 1791-ton freighter Ausma
  • 1700-ton tanker TN-12
Several Soviet ships hit mines off Juminda but make it back to Kronstadt:
  • Destroyer leader Minsk
  • Destroyer Gordy
  • Destroyer Slavny
  • Minesweeper T-205
This is not the extent of the Soviet Baltic Fleet's losses for the day, either. Additional ships hit mines off Seiskaari in a completely different minefield:
  • Destroyer Skory
  • Destroyer Volodarski
Overall, it is the worst day of the war for the Soviet Navy. The Germans also send ships of the 1st S-boat Flotilla based in Helsinki to attack the fleeing Soviet ships on the 29th.

German "Pravda" propaganda, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The 28 August 1941 "Pravda," a propaganda work created by the Wehrmacht. It urges, "Workers of all countries unite you - to fight against Bolshevism!" The paper discusses the successes of the Wehrmacht and claims that 6 million Soviet troops have perished to date in the war. It also provides quite a good map of the front as of 28 August 1941, something the Wehrmacht would be well-equipped to know. Hitler's picture is captioned, "The Supreme leader of the German army, who is victorious in his crusade against the enemy of humanity - against Bolshevism."

Battle of the Atlantic: U-558 (Kptlt. Günther Krech), on its third patrol out of Brest, continues the attacks of Wolfpack Bosemüller on Convoy OS-4 south of Iceland and west of Ireland. Krech sinks 10,298-ton British tanker Otaio. There are 13 deaths, with nine of the deaths resulting after the crew takes to the boats, and 58 survivors. U-558 has been directed to its attack location by U-557.

A number of other U-boats in Wolfpack Markgraf set up a picket line southwest of Iceland.

German U-boat U-570, captured on the 27th, is taken to a secluded harbor in Iceland in great secrecy and beached at Þorlákshöfn, Iceland. The British intend to study it and eventually put it into service with the Royal Navy.

Royal Navy minesweeping trawler Lorinda sinks due to engine breakdown off Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Luftwaffe bombs and damages 8149-ton British tanker Donovania a few miles off of St. Ann's Head. Donovania makes it back to Milford Haven for repairs. There is one death.

Newly commissioned US Navy escort carrier USS Long Island embarks on its first neutrality patrol from Bermuda. Task Force TF-3 departs from Trinidad led by light cruisers Memphis, Omaha, and Milwaukee.

The Royal Navy forms a strike group around battleship HMS Revenge to track down a reported German heavy cruiser in the North Atlantic. The Royal Navy ships are joined by American Task Force TG2.5, led by aircraft carrier Yorktown. They search but find nothing.

Royal Navy submarine Parthian departs from Portsmouth, England for Portsmouth, New Hampshire for repairs which last until 30 January 1942.

First Lord of the Admiralty A.V. Alexander completes his inspection tour of Scapa Flow and heads back to London.

Royal Navy minesweeper Beaumaris is commissioned and corvette Cowslip is launched.

US Navy destroyer USS Taylor (DD/DDE-468) is laid down at Bath Iron Works, Maine. Taylor becomes famous in 1945 as the first US warship to anchor in Japanese coastal waters.

U-352 (Kapitänleutnant Hellmut Rathke), U-585 (Kapitänleutnant Ernst-Bernward Lohse), and U-754 (Kapitänleutnant Hans Oestermann) are commissioned, U-209 and U-704 are launched.

British soldiers with an American M3 Stuart tank in the Western Desert, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The British 8th Hussars familiarize themselves with new American M3 Stuart tanks in the Western Desert, 28 August 1941 (© IWM (E 5086)).

Battle of the Mediterranean:  Operation Treacle, the replacement of Australian troops in Tobruk with Polish troops of the Carpathia Brigade, continues. Royal Navy minelaying cruiser Latona and destroyers Decoy, Jackal, and Napier carry Polish troops to the besieged port. This convoy is the penultimate voyage of Operation Treacle, which concludes on 30 August.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Rorqual (Lt. Napier) torpedoes and sinks 2747-ton Italian freighter Cilicia off Morea, Greece. Italian torpedo boat Antares rushes to the scene and rams Rorqual before it can fully submerge, damaging its periscope.

Royal Navy submarines Unbeaten and Utmost attack Italian vessels in the vicinity of Sicily, but both miss.

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

8th Sherwood Foresters cross a river during exercises in Ireland, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Men of the 8th Sherwood Foresters cross a river using a small kapok pontoon bridge, Dunadry in Northern Ireland, 28 August 1941.

Special Forces: Royal Navy submarine HMS Triumph (Cdr Woods) lands Commandos on the north coast of Sicily. They successfully blow up some water aqueducts and the main rail line from Palermo to Messina.

Partisans: As retribution for the 27 August 1941 assassination attempt on Pierre Laval, and pursuant to orders issued by the occupation authorities following the assassination of a German naval cadet in Paris a week ago, the Vichy government guillotines three Resistance members.

German authorities in Yugoslavia warn that the partisan uprising has become worse with time. The Italian troops have been ineffective in regaining control of large sections of Serbia.

Arizona Daily Star, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The Arizona Daily Star, 28 August 1941. Its lead is the attempted assassination of Pierre Laval in France on the previous day.

US/Japanese Relations: In the morning, Secretary of State Cordell Hull brings Japanese Ambassador Nomura in to see President Roosevelt. Nomura gives the President a proposal from Prime Minister Prince Konoye for resolving issues in the Pacific. Among Konoye's requests is a summit meeting with Roosevelt in Hawaii. Roosevelt responds that Juneau, Alaska would be better for him, to which Nomura immediately agrees, with the request that the meeting be held as soon as possible. Roosevelt thanks Nomura for the note and indicates that he would like to spend three or four days with Konoye in Juneau.

German/Italian Relations: On the night of 27/28 August 1941, Hitler parks his command train "Amerika" in the Strzyżów tunnel of Anlage Süd, while Mussolini parks his train nearby at Stępina. This is the only time that Hitler uses Anlage Sud, while Mussolini uses Anlage Mitte, which are purpose-built headquarters for command trains built by Organization Todt precisely for this purpose. The complexes are never used again except for war production and storage.

Later, Mussolini and Hitler are touring the Russian Front, and there is an awkward moment while the two are flying from Uman to Lvov. Mussolini unexpectedly goes forward into the cockpit and asks the pilot if he can fly the plane himself. Everybody remains silent, including Hitler, so Mussolini pilots the plane for over an hour. Many of the passengers, including Heinrich Himmler and Joachim Ribbentrop, wonder how much experience Mussolini has flying planes (apparently very little) and become very uncomfortable. Fortunately for the Fuehrer, Mussolini causes no issues and Hitler's regular pilot Hans Baur retakes control and lands the plane.

Men of the SAS, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Men of the SAS. The man on the right is Captain "Jake" Easonsmith, KIA on Leros, Greece in 1943 (CREDIT: THE FAMILY OF THE LATE LT-COL ‘JAKE’ EASONSMITH, DSO, MC).

British Military: The Special Air Services (SAS), a highly secretive successor to the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), is formed today. These are the famous "Desert Rats."

Japanese Military: Imperial Japanese Navy freighter Santos Maru, 7266-tons, assists Japanese submarine I-5 off of a reef at Staring Bay, Kendari, the Celebes. Santos Maru then repairs the submarine.

IJN submarine chaser CH-26 is launched.

The IJN requisitions 6776-ton freighter Yamashimo Maru and 1192-ton oiler Kyoei Maru No. 2.

Soviet Military: The Stavka abolishes Marshal Voroshilov's Northwestern Theater headquarters, as he is consumed with the defense of Leningrad.

US Military: Admiral Hart, Commander in Chief of the U. S. Asiatic Fleet, writes a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Stark. He suggests withdrawal of US Naval Forces from China because "the weakness of their military position is so obvious." He adds that "it should be made clear, beyond any possible misapprehension in any quarter, that every military consideration calls for their withdrawal." He suggests that if a military presence in China is considered necessary, it should only be a token force, as "in the event of war with Japan they would be quickly contained or destroyed, probably without being able to inflict even a comparable loss on the enemy."

Lewis "Chesty" Puller takes command of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines after returning from China.

In Newfoundland, Naval Air Station Argentia is commissioned NAS Argentia. It is used for base convoy protection, coastal patrols, and anti-submarine aircraft.

US Government: President Roosevelt uses an Executive Order, No. 8875, to create the  Supply Priorities and Allocation Board (SPAB). Its purpose is to coordinate the distribution of materials and commodities related to US national defense and to assist the Office of Production Management (OPM) in carrying out their overlapping duties.

Australian Prime Minister Fadden, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Arthur Fadden circa 1941.

Australian Government: Robert Menzies resigns as Prime Minister of Australia and is replaced by Arthur Fadden. Menzies spent four months in England from January to May 1941, and that took a toll on his political support in the Australian Parliament. His party's partner in his coalition government, the Country Party, elects Fadden as its leader, and this effectively makes Fadden the 13th Australian PM upon Menzies' resignation. However, Fadden is not popular, and his government does not last past October 1941.

Decree ordering the incarceration of Volga Germans in Siberia, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Ukaz 21-160, the decree ordering the deportation of Volga Germans to Siberia, ordered by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on 28 August 1941 (this is the German version, it also was published in Russian).

Soviet Government: Joseph Stalin arbitrarily abolishes the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with a "Decree of Banishment" effective 7 September 1941. Stalin also orders that all Volga Germans be exiled to Siberia and Kazakhstan and interned in labor camps lest they become spies for Hitler.

Holocaust: The SS completes its execution of roughly 25,000 Hungarian Jews at Kamenets Podolski. The victims are made to march to bomb craters outside of town, undress, and then stand at the edge of the pits so that they will fall in when machine-gunned. Not everyone is killed by the bullets, but they succumb when other bodies fall on them and then when the pit eventually is filled in.

The incident is extremely cold-blooded and comes about only because Hungary has refused to take back the Jews, who previously had been expelled from or fled Hungary for the "safety" of the USSR. This led SS General Franz Jaeckeln to liquidate them as a matter of convenience.

At Kedainiai, Lithuania, SS troops conduct another mass execution using the usual method of marching the victims to pits outside of town and gunning them down so they fall into the pits. This is the entire population of the town. A Jewish butcher feigns death and then leaps up and bites a SS soldier in the throat, leading to the soldier's death. He is immediately shot dead.

There is a mass execution at Czyzewo-Szlachecki, Poland, of an uncertain number.

Metz train station, 28 August 1941 worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The main Metz train station, 28 August 1941 (Proietti, Ugo, Federal Archive, Bild 212-334).

German Homefront: Adolf Hitler, who recently terminated the T-4 euthanasia program due in large part to opposition by leading German Catholic clerics, makes another gesture toward the Church. He rescinds a decree issued by Bavarian Gauleiter Adolf Wagner in April 1941 that made it illegal to allow Catholic prayers and Crucifixes in Bavarian schools. This is in large part due to mass demonstrations by Bavarian mothers, encouraged by sermons delivered by Archbishop of Munich-Freising, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber.

Nobody is punished for the demonstrations because Hitler knows that the Church is the only institution in the Reich that can challenge his own popularity. However, in private, Hitler mutters darkly to his cronies that he will get even with the Church and its leaders when the time is right.

Erich Fromm's "Escape from Freedom" (Die Furcht vor der Freiheit) is published in Germany. It becomes Fromm's best-known work. A philosophical work, "Escape from Freedom" examines medieval society to show that people may say that they want "freedom," but their acts and the institutions they create suggest exactly the opposite.

American Homefront: Reacting to a ban on a birth control exhibit at the New York State Fair held in Syracuse by acting Governor Poletti, Margaret Sanger writes an angry letter:
We have been informed that Mr. Poletti’s stand was taken as a result of protests by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.   If this be so, we protest as undemocratic and inimical to public welfare the fact that pressure of a minority religious group can effectively bar the majority of the citizens of New York State from information they desire on a subject considered of sufficient importance as a health measure to be included in the state public health programs of North and South Carolina and of Alabama, and in 209 health department programs in 39 states.
Poletti does not change his mind, and the exhibit is not held.

Future History: John Stanley Marshall is born in Isleworth, Middlesex, England. John Marshall becomes a founding member of jazz-rock band Nucleus and a major figure as a drummer who works with many jazz and rock bands and musicians.



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