Thursday, January 2, 2020

February 2, 1941: Wehrmacht Supermen

Sunday 2 February 1941

2 February 1941 Dr. Voronoff
Dr. Serge Voronoff at his monkey-gland laboratory in France.
Italian/Greek Campaign: The Greeks (Cretan 5th Division of II Corps) on 2 February 1941 finally take full possession of the Trebeshina (Trebeshinë) massif. The nearby Greek 15th Division also makes small gains, completing the capture of the village of Bubeshi.

Italian forces in the area, however, remain unusually feisty for Italian troops of World War II. Thus, little profit appears likely from this commanding position in the area achieved by the Greek troops. Further progress may depend upon British troops, which remain in Egypt and Libya pending the completion of operations there and Greek approval to accept them. The RAF is busy in support of the Greeks. The Greeks are trying to take the strategically decisive port of Valona (Vlorë) quickly, and capture of the Trebeshinë heights is necessary to accomplish that. However, Klisura Pass is just the gateway toward Valona, not on its doorstep, and much work remains to be done (such as the capture of Tepelenë) before the port is even threatened, much less overcome.

With the benefit of hindsight and in light of later events (Operation Marita), the protracted defense of the Trebeshinë heights by two battalions of the Italian Blackshirts may be seen as having secured Valona and, thus, the entire Italian position in Albania for the duration of World War II. It salvages a tiny bit of Italian military honor. With the benefit of even more hindsight and perhaps a bit of arguable interpretation, the use of crack Cretan troops in Albania rather than keeping them in Crete may have contributed to future Allied defeats there as well.

Spinning things out a bit further.... perhaps beyond the breaking point... the successful Italian defense of the Trebeshinë heights may have played an even larger role in the outcome of World War II. If the Italians in Albania had folded completely in a short period of time, Hitler might not have authorized Operation Marita (at least partly intended to rescue the Italians). In that case, he might have had those troops available at the start of Operation Barbarossa. Many historians theorize that, had those troops been used in the Soviet Union right from the opening of hostilities, Moscow might have been captured before the winter snows and the entire course of world history altered. But, that is sheer speculation.

2 February 1941 Keren Eritrea battle map
Map of initial attacks on Keren, Eritrea.
East African Campaign: The Italian collapse in Eritrea continues. The 5th Indian Infantry Division takes Barentu, with the Italians retreating at first down a small road that turns into a mule track. The reported prisoner haul is 8000, but this figure seems high. Ultimately, the Italians abandon the road altogether and simply hike overland toward the coast. While this prevents the pursuing British from catching up to them, it also forces them to abandon every single vehicle, including guns, trucks, and tanks. The Italian troops (largely colonial) from both the Cochen Mountain and Barentu fronts head for Keren on the Keren Plateau, which has fewer natural defensive advantages than the positions the British already have overcome. However, it is located at 4300 feet above sea level, which forces the British to attack essentially while going uphill.

Preliminary operations against Keren already are underway. Gazelle Force crosses the Baraka River with some difficulty (the Italians have blown the Ponte Mussolini bridge) and ascends toward the plateau. The British troops make it all the way to within about 6 km of Keren, where it is stopped at the Donglolaas Gorge. Normally, the area can be traversed without difficulty, but the Italians have dynamited the overhanging escarpments, filling the gorge with boulders and debris. The Italians also rather unhelpfully have mined the approaches.

In Abyssinia, the advancing South African troops capture Hobok.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command begins a sustained campaign against the Channel invasion ports, in conjunction with Coastal Command. Among the targeted ports today are Berck, Le Havre, and Ostend. After dark, the RAF bombs Brest.

The Circus Operations continue. As opposed to Rhubarb missions, which are fighters only, the Circus missions include a token force of bombers to make their interception by the Luftwaffe more potentially profitable. This attack in the daylight is by five Blenheims against Boulogne. The British claim three fighters destroyed.

The Luftwaffe remains dormant. There are scattered raids over eastern England, with a few bombs dropped here and there.

Battle of the Atlantic: German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which have been in the far North Atlantic near Bear Island for several days waiting for the weather to improve, finally manage to complete refueling from tanker Adria. They each receive about 3400 tons of fuel and then quickly head to the southwest. Rather than head south of Iceland, as they did during their abortive breakout attempt in late January, the two ships head north of Iceland. Their objective is a passage through the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland. Around this time, one of the Gneisenau's crewmen, named Liske, is lost overboard in the heavy seas and not recovered.

The Luftwaffe bombs and sinks 834-ton British freighter The Sultan in the outer fringes of the Thames Estuary. There are two deaths and 12 survivors.

Royal Navy 505 ton trawler HMT Almond hits a mine and sinks off Falmouth. All 19 onboard perish.

Belgian 168 ton coaster Pallieter (formerly Hero) has its cargo shift during a storm. This causes the ship to sink in the Firth of Forth.

The Luftwaffe attacks 5135-ton British freighter Waziristan in the Atlantic shipping lanes west of the Faroes Islands. A near miss disables the ship, which eventually is taken under tow by tug Bandit and brought to Kirkwall.

Convoy FN 398 departs from Southend, Convoy FS 402 departs from Methil, Convoy BS 14 departs from Suez.

U-431 is launched.

2 February 1941 Italian POWs Tobruk
Italian POWs are being brought to the fortress area at Tobruk for processing, 1941 (Australian War Memorial). Tobruk serves as the embarkation point for Italian POWs heading for Alexandria.
Battle of the Mediterranean: The Australian 6th Division continues pursuing the Italians west of Derna. While not in wild flight, the Italians are moving with some alacrity back toward Benghazi - which itself is being evacuated. They also are engaging in skillful minelaying and combat destruction. This is slowing down the Australian infantry, as each minefield requires a methodical clearing before the advance can continue.

With Middle East Commander Archibald Wavell's permission in hand, General O'Connor of XIII Corps is preparing to send his armored forces south of the mountain (Jebel Akhdar, or Green Mountain) that bifurcates northeast Libyan operations. This requires supplies that must be shipped to Tobruk - not in perfect working order after the recent battles there - and then transport north toward Derna. O'Connor is torn between getting his supplies in order and then sending his troops (Combe Force) out fully prepared, or sending what he has available out quickly in order to increase the likelihood of blocking the Italian retreat.

O'Connor adopts the latter course. He orders Lieutenant Colonel J.F.B. Combe, commanding 11th Hussars, 2nd Rifle Brigade and assorted field, antitank and antiaircraft artillery) to set out first thing in the morning of the 3rd. The 7th Armoured Division will follow shortly thereafter. The basic plan is for the Australians to herd the Italians westward north of the mountain, while Combe Force moves directly westward and cuts them off further west. This unit becomes known as Combe Force.

Elsewhere, the Royal Navy is active. Operation Picket by Force H is launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. This is an attack by eight Skuas of RAF No. 810 Squadron on a strategically important San Chiara Ulla Dam at Lake Tirso, Sardinia. This attack, which aims to destroy hydroelectric facilities as well using torpedoes, is executed but does not damage the targets due to low clouds, hail, rain, antiaircraft fire, barking dogs and the whole lot. Four torpedoes are released, but apparently, they hit a sandbar or other obstruction. The British lose a Skua, with the three crewmen rescued by the Italians and taken prisoner. It is an interesting operation in the abstract, full of derring-do and the like, but results only in quite a bit of profitless effort on both ends of the Mediterranean.

Admiral Somerville still plans to carry off companion operation Operation Grog (formerly Result) (the bombardment of Genoa). However, he decides against it on this sortie due to the weather. Force H then retires to Gibraltar. Many lessons are learned from this somewhat embarrassing affair which is put to good use eventually in the famous "Dambusters" raid later in the war.

A diversionary operation for the disappointing Operation Picket and abortive Operation Result is underway in the eastern Mediterranean. In Operation MC 7, a large force of Royal Navy ships essentially simulates a typical convoy from Alexandria to Malta.

Italian tug Uso sinks between the islands of Korčula and Lastovo, Yugoslavia. The cause of sinking apparently is a mine; some accounts say it is by a torpedo, but the source of the supposed torpedo is not given. Sometimes, witnesses at the scene don't even know what happened and can only guess. Post-war record checks don't always resolve such issues.

In Malta, the government decides to set up a new department, the Food and Distributions Office. This office, under Marquis Barbaro of St George, will implement a rationing scheme. As part of this process, households will be issued rationing cards.

Wellingtons based on Malta attack Castel Benito, a Libyan airfield that the Italians enlarged in the late 1930s. This is but the latest in many air attacks on the field.

2 February 1941 Dr. Voronoff Keren Eritrea
Keren, Eritrea, around the time of World War II.
Battle of the Indian Ocean: The Gneisenau and Scharnhorst aren't the only German heavy ships operating in the Atlantic; battlecruisers Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper also are on the loose. There also are many other German ships of various purposes roaming the high seas which can help them fulfill their commerce-raiding missions. One of them operating in the western Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar, is German raider Atlantis. Today, it captures 7301-ton Norwegian tanker Ketty Brøvig, which is full of 6370 tons of fuel oil and 4125 tons of diesel oil from Bahrain. The Atlantis puts a prize crew aboard and will use the tanker to fuel itself and whatever other Axis ships it encounters. This is an example of how an entire fleet can "live off the land" in the middle of the ocean.

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Formidable is on its way up the eastern African coast to join the Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria. Its presence there is necessary to replace the battered HMS Illustrious, which is heading for permanent repairs in the United States (at some point the two carriers pass, which must give the boys on the Formidable quite an eyeful of what to expect for themselves). Today, it operates as part of Force K, a determined British effort to track down German raider Atlantis. While having no success in that mission, it is in the vicinity of Italian Somaliland (Somalia), and the British decide to take advantage of that fact. Formidable launches its Swordfish against Mogadishu harbor to lay mines. The nine Albacores then attack Mogadishu itself in Operation Breach.

Italian destroyers are operating in the Red Sea. After dark, they attack one of the BS convoys but are deterred by the Royal Navy escorts.

German battlecruiser Admiral Scheer transits from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

Battle of the Pacific: German raider Orion completes an overhaul at Maug Island in the Marianas and heads for the Indian Ocean.

2 February 1941 Dr. Voronoff
Dr. Voronoff claims that monkey glands may contain the secret to eternal youth. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 13 July 1924.
British Government: General Alan Brooke, commander of United Kingdom Home Forces and in charge of anti-invasion preparations, records in his diary that he had dinner at Chequers and then gave a presentation to Prime Minister Churchill, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and various others in Churchill's coterie. Everybody is complimentary, he says, but Churchill "would not acknowledge that an invasion ... was possible in the face of partial sea-control and local air-control."

US Government: Dean Acheson is made Assistant Secretary of State.

Canada: Prime Minister William Mackenzie King makes a radio speech to the Canadian people. He states that the Germans are engaging in barbarity:
Total war means an indiscriminate attack on every front, by every means, however fiendish. Practiced by the [fascists], as we have seen, it is war against homes, hospitals, schools and churches. It is war on men, women and children.
King emphasizes the importance of fully supporting the war effort. He informs the public that Canada will double the number of troops it already is contributing to the war effort in Europe.

Australia: Prime Minister Robert Menzies continues his epic journey from Melbourne to London, recorded in his voluminous diary (these entries most likely written on the plane). Today, he stops at Baghdad. He meets the Regent, who he describes as "clear-headed but only 25, afraid of his advisers." Menzies describes the new Iraqi Prime Minister as "a stop-gap, being a little better [than his predecessor] but not much." He then continues on to Jerusalem for the night.

China: The indeterminate fighting in Southern Honan (Henan) continues. The Japanese 11th Army evacuates Wuyang.

2 February 1941 Dr. Voronoff
Dr. Voronoff claims that monkey glands may be able to create a race of supermen. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23 September 1936.
French Homeland: For unexplained reasons, the Germans seize the monkeys of French researcher Dr. Serge Voronoff. Now, this leads to the question, who is Dr. Voronoff and who cares about his monkeys? Well, there's a story to that.

Dr. Voronoff is the 74-year-old brother-in-law of the wife of ex-King Carol II of Romania. He has maintained a monkey farm and laboratory near Mentone for decades. He is a specialist in monkey glands, specifically, applied uses of monkey glands for medicinal purposes.

Now, monkey glands may not sound like a particularly exciting field. However, at this point in time, there are many hopes that monkey glands may have special powers. Specifically, there are claims that monkey glands are the fountain of youth. Dr. Voronoff does not mind the publicity, and in fact has made some wild claims of his own, reported in the international press, that monkey glands literally can create an army of supermen. And, in German hands, that would be an army of Wehrmacht Supermen.

Which means there may be something quite special about these particular monkeys. Who knows what... alterations the good doctor has made to them? It makes the otherwise inexplicable decision of the Germans to seize the monkeys quite explainable. As for Dr. Voronoff - he and his 26-year-old wife previously booked tickets to New York and arrived there on 6 September 1940.

Italian Homeland: Apparently as a result of reversals in Libya, Benito Mussolini declares southern Italy a war zone and places it under martial law.

2 February 1941 Dr. Voronoff
Dr. Voronoff's monkeys seized; 2 February 1941 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

February 1941

February 1, 1941: US Military Reorganization
February 2, 1941: Wehrmacht Supermen
February 3, 1941: World Will Hold Its Breath
February 4, 1941: USO Forms
February 5, 1941: Hitler Thanks Irish Woman
February 6, 1941: Operation Sunflower
February 7, 1941: Fox Killed in the Open
February 8, 1941: Lend-Lease Passes House
February 9, 1941: Give Us The Tools
February 10, 1941: Operation Colossus
February 11, 1941: Afrika Korps
February 12, 1941: Rommel in Africa
February 13, 1941: Operation Composition
February 14, 1941: Nomura in Washington
February 15, 1941: Churchill's Warning
February 16, 1941: Operation Adolphus
February 17, 1941: Invade Ireland?
February 18, 1941: Panzerwaffe Upgrade
February 19, 1941: Three Nights Blitz
February 20, 1941: Prien's Farewell
February 21, 1941: Swansea Blitz Ends
February 22, 1941: Amsterdam Pogrom
February 23, 1941: OB-288 Convoy Destruction
February 24, 1941: Okuda Spies
February 25, 1941: Mogadishu Taken
February 26, 1941: OB-290 Convoy Destruction
February 27, 1941: Operation Abstention
February 28, 1941: Ariets Warns Stalin


Monday, December 30, 2019

October 24, 1939: Third Reich "Justice" Gets Rolling

Tuesday 24 October 1939

Roland Freisler and his "special court."
Battle of the Atlantic: On 24 October 1939, the Soviets are still confused about what to do with the City of Flint and its crew. Today, they send the crew, which the day before were going to return to their ship, into informal custody. The Americans are not allowed to contact the US embassy in Moscow but technically are not under arrest because of a highly technical reading of the international law of ship seizures. Nobody knows what the next step will be. There are conflicting reports, in fact, as to who exactly is being interned.

U-37 (Korvettenkapitän Werner Hartmann) has a big day. It sinks the British freighters Ledbury (3,528 tons), Menin Ridge (2,474 tons) and Tafna (4,413 tons). The successes are all against independents and about 90 miles west of Gibraltar.

Greek freighter Konstantinos Hadjipateras (5962 tons) hits a mine just off the English coast in the North Sea. Four perish, the rest are picked up by the Gorleston lifeboat Louise Stephens.

The British detain the US freighter Wacosta. They release the US freighter Iberville after seizing its cargo. They also seize US mail destined for the Continent from the Finnish freighter Astrid Thorden. The aggressive British seizures are raising some eyebrows in the United States.

Convoy HXF 6 departs from Halifax for Liverpool.

Western Front: The Germans mount a minor attack on a French outpost in the Forest of Warndt in the Saar region. There are scattered raids all along the Front, but no concerted troop movements.

German Government: State Secretary Roland Freisler of the Reich Ministry of Justice discusses "special courts," or Sondergerichte. He characterizes them as  the "tank corps of penal law" which will be used to eliminate those who "stab the dagger in the people's back." In practice, they will constitute show trials, with Freisler shouting at defendants and berating them in open court. The defendants invariably are polite and respectful as Freisler hectors them and sentences them to concentration camps or death (sometimes the same thing). The trials are popular, and in a macabre way constitute the first use of courts as entertainment.

German/Soviet Relations: Foreign Minister Ribbentrop signs a trade deal with the Soviets. The Soviets agree to supply 1 million tonnes of grain and fodder.

German Propaganda: Ribbentrop makes a rare speech in Danzig. He affixes Great Britain with war guilt for working steadily against the Germans. He also blames the British for refusing to even consider "the hand of the Führer stretched out in a peace gesture."

London almost immediately dismisses the speech, saying that it "introduces no new element into the situation nor is it considered as having any particular importance."

Finland: The Finnish delegation once again returns to Helsinki to review border proposals made by the USSR.

Poland: The Polish government-in-exile has had an ace up its sleeve all along. Only now Polish gold reach Paris that has been on the road via Romania and then Syria. It totals more than £15,000,000.

Separately, the Polish government in London (the government-in-exile is still in Paris) announces that exile Poles will be used in a Polish Army in France.

Japanese/German Relations: Ambassador Oshima meets with Hitler.

American Homefront: Joe DiMaggio of the four-time World Series Champions New York Yankees is named the American League MVP. Joe hit .381. Red Sox first baseman Jimmie Foxx is second.

Nylon stockings go on sale nationwide for the first time. Stores report being sold out of their stock within hours. It is perhaps the biggest fashion moment of the decade.

Future History:  F. Murray Abraham is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He wins the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Antonio Salieri in "Amadeus."

"The Long Swing," Joe Dimaggio.

October 1939

October 1, 1939: Occupation of Warsaw
October 2, 1939: Hel Peninsula Falls
October 3, 1939: The Diamantis Incident
October 4, 1939: Otto Kretschmer Gets Rolling
October 5, 1939: Polish Resistance Ends
October 6, 1939: Hitler Peace Effort
October 7, 1939: The British Have Arrived
October 8, 1939: First RAF Kill from UK
October 9, 1939: "City of Flint" Incident
October 10, 1939: Lithuania Under Pressure
October 11, 1939: The Atomic Age Begins
October 12, 1939: England Rejects Hitler's Peace Offer
October 13, 1939: Charles Lindbergh Speaks Out
October 14, 1939: Royal Oak Sunk
October 15, 1939: Cuban Rockets
October 16, 1939: First Aircraft Shot Down Over UK
October 17, 1939: Marshall Mannerheim Returns
October 18, 1939: Prien Receives His Award
October 19, 1939: Preliminary Plan for Fall Gelb
October 20, 1939: Hitler Grapples with the Jews
October 21, 1939: Hurricanes to the Rescue!
October 22, 1939: Goebbels Lies Through His Teeth
October 23, 1939: Norway the Center of Attention
October 24, 1939: German "Justice" Gets Rolling
October 25, 1939: Handley Page Halifax Bomber First Flies
October 26, 1939: Jozef Tiso Takes Slovakia
October 27, 1939: King Leopold Stands Firm
October 28, 1939 - First Luftwaffe Raid on Great Britain
October 29, 1939: Tinkering with Fall Gelb
October 30, 1939: Defective Torpedoes
October 31, 1939: Molotov Issues an Ultimatum


September 22, 1939: Joint Soviet-German Military Parade

Friday 22 September 1939

Soviet German military parade Brest-Litovsk 22 September 1939
German and Soviet soldiers conversing, 22 September 1939.
Battle of Poland: German forces under the command of General Heinz Guderian (XIX Corps) were in possession of territory on the eastern side of the Bug River. Soviet forces now arrived to assume control of that area under the secret terms of the 23 August 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. Kombrig (Commanding officer of the brigade) Semyon Moiseevich Krivoshein of the Soviet 29th Tank Brigade, who had crossed the Polish border on 17 September, reached Brest-Litovsk on the morning of 22 September. Krivoshein found the Germans looting the town, with Guderian himself ensconced there. The German apparently had been there for several days already.

Soviet German military parade Brest-Litovsk 22 September 1939
A Wehrmacht soldier initiates peace talks with a Russian female soldier in Brest-Litovsk, Poland, 22 September 1939.
After some back-and-forth, Krivoshein visited Guderian at the latter's headquarters. Guderian acknowledged that he had to relinquish the town, but proposed to make the German departure a formal occasion, complete with a parade. Krivoshein was not very enthusiastic about the idea, having just completed a quick advance to reach the city and not wanting any extra hassles. However, Krivoshein agreed to supply a few token battalions to support the effort, along with a military band. The informal parade began at 16:00, complete with festive bunting. Both German and Soviet troops marched through hastily constructed "Victory Arches" before the two commanding officers.

Soviet German military parade Brest-Litovsk 22 September 1939
Guderian and Krivoshein at the Brest-Litovsk parade.
Krivoshein later greatly downplayed the event in his memoirs and implied that the Soviet forces were merely present and not active participants. He recalled that he did not allow his troops to march with the German forces, who were rested and looked more presentable. However, it should be noted that subsequent events made downplaying any cooperation with the Germans a politically wise decision, and Soviet military historical works are notorious for their impeccable political hindsight.

Afterward, the German forces withdrew to the west bank of the Bug River as pre-ordained. The event has attracted much publicity in subsequent years due to the subsequent estrangement of the two forces. It is believed that the 22 September 1939 parade was the only such event that ever took place involving the two sides. Russian historians, in particular, are quick to minimize the event as being merely a "ceremonial departure" of the German forces, but the photographic record suggests that it was a bit more than that.

The Polish commander of Lwów hands it over to the Soviets.

Polish units of the 39th Infantry Division have been defending the village of Cześniki near Zamość. They have been holding off the German 27th Infantry Division and 4th Light Division. The 39th Infantry Division now is ordered to relieve Lwów and breaks through the German lines. With that city suddenly being surrendered, however, they are now on the move with nowhere to go.

"Honorary Colonel of the 12th Artillery Regiment" Generaloberst Werner Thomas Ludwig Freiherr von Fritsch is killed in Praga while "inspecting the front." He is picked off by either a sniper or a machine gun. Von Fritsch is believed to have voluntarily exposed himself to enemy fire due to his lingering disgrace over the false accusations of homosexuality used to depose him from his position as Commander in Chief of the Heer.

Western Front: The French claim to be approaching Zweibrücken in the Siegfried line. French radio also reports that the Wehrmacht has lost 150,000 men so far in the conflict. The actual figure is maybe 10% of that.

Battle of the Atlantic: The steamer Arkleside is torpedoed and sinks. A Grimsby trawler also is sunk.

Romanian Government: The government executes several members of the Iron Guard, including the assassins of the Romanian Prime Minister, in Bucharest.

Allied Supreme Command: In Hove, Sussex, the second meeting of the Allied Supreme War Council takes place between the British and French representatives. Nothing much is accomplished beyond issues of supply.

British Homefront: The Metropolitan Police Commission in London reports that road accidents have tripled so far in September. That is likely due to the blackout. The courts are clogged with blackout violations. Gasoline is rationed.

Soviet German military parade Brest-Litovsk 22 September 1939

September 1939

September 1, 1939: Invasion of Poland
September 2, 1939: Danzig Annexed
September 3, 1939: France, Great Britain Declare War
September 4, 1939: First RAF Raid
September 5, 1939: The US Stays Out
September 6, 1939: Battle of Barking Creek
September 7, 1939: Polish HQ Bugs Out
September 8, 1939: War Crimes in Poland
September 9, 1939: The Empire Strikes Back
September 10, 1939: The Germans Break Out
September 11, 1939: Battle of Kałuszyn
September 12, 1939: The French Chicken Out
September 13, 1939: The Battle of Modlin
September 14, 1939: Germany Captures Gdynia
September 15, 1939: Warsaw Surrounded
September 16, 1939: Battle of Jaworów
September 17, 1939: Soviets Invade Poland
September 18, 1939: Lublin Falls
September 19, 1939: Germans, Soviets Hook Up
September 20, 1939: the Kraków Army Surrenders
September 21, 1939: Romania Convulses
September 22, 1939: Joint Soviet-German Military Parade
September 23, 1939: The Panama Conference
September 24, 1939: The Luftwaffe Bombs Warsaw
September 25, 1939: Black Monday for Warsaw
September 26, 1939: Warsaw on the Ropes
September 27, 1939: Hitler Decides to Invade France
September 28, 1939: Warsaw Capitulates
September 29, 1939: Modlin Fortress Falls
September 30, 1939: Graf Spee on the Loose


Thursday, December 26, 2019

March 11, 1942: Warren Buffett's First Stock Trade

Wednesday 11 March 1942

HMS Naiad, sunk on 11 March 1942
HMS Naiad, sunk in the Mediterranean on 11 March 1942.
Battle of the Pacific: General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of  United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), departs from Corregidor on 11 March 1942. His escape has been moved up several days due to threats made over the Japanese propaganda network. MacArthur and his party board one of four PT boats at Corregidor's North Dock at 19:45, while others who are leaving (including Admiral Rockwell) are taken to Bataan where their boats await. MacArthur's boat then leads the three other boats in a diamond formation through rough weather. The four boats are separated in the darkness and sea swells, with MacArthur's boat and two of the others reaching Mindanao on 13 March (and Australia on 17 March). The fourth boat, PT-32, loses engine power and its party is taken back to Corregidor (they later make it to Australia). MacArthur thanks the men involved for saving him from "the jaws of death."

General Jonathan Wainwright now commands in Luzon, though MacArthur has indicated that he intends to continue to control operations through proxies. Wainwright commands roughly 95,000 Allied forces on Bataan and Corregidor. The Japanese commander, General Homma, is under firm orders from Tokyo to resume his offensive and evict the remaining Allied forces from the Philippines.

US Army M2A4 light tank in British service, 11 March 1942
A US Army M2A4 light tank in British service, 11 March 1942. © IWM (H 17816). Many of these tanks served in Burma.
In Burma, the British north of Rangoon launch a counterattack from Nyaunglebein. The 1st Burma Division with the 1st and 2nd Burma Brigades targets Pyuntaza and Shwegyin. This is all part of a retrograde movement toward the safety of India and the creation of a redoubt in northern Burma. After this attack, most of the units withdraw toward Kanyutkwin. Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, Commanding General American Army Forces, China, Burma and India and newly appointed Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army, assumes command of the Chinese 5th and 6th Armies. These armies actually are quite small and amount in total to about the size of one British division.

USS Pollack (SS-180) sank several Japanese ships on 11 March 1942
USS Pollack (SS-180). Among its achievements was being among the first three US submarines on war patrol during World War II, the first to reach Japanese waters, and the first to get a confirmed victim (USS Pollack SSN 603).
USS Pollack (Lt. Cdr. S.P. Moselely, SS-180), operating in the East China Sea about 270 miles east of Shanghai, torpedoes and sinks 1454-ton Japanese freighter Fukushu Maru. It also apparently sinks 5266-ton passenger ship Baikal Maru. A little later, Pollack sinks two sampans with its deck gun. There is some dispute about Baikal, and either it was not sunk at all or was salvaged after the war and converted into a whale factory ship.

Japanese submarine I-2, operating off West Sumatra, torpedoes and sinks 4360-ton British passenger/cargo vessel SS Chilka. There are seven dead and at least three survivors.

US 4932-ton passenger/cargo ship SS Mount McKinley grounds off Unimak Island, Aleutians and is wrecked. Everyone survives.

PB2Y-3 11 March 1942
PB2Y-3 at Noumea Harbor New Caledonia March 11, 1942 (USAF).
Eastern Front: A snowstorm on the central front that began on 10 March increases in intensity throughout the night. Travel becomes difficult. General Walter Model manages to fly through the storm to Fuhrer Headquarters in East Prussia. He is there to argue in favor of the quick start of Operation Brueckenschlag, a drive toward Oshtakov which would close a gap between Army Groups Center and North (Brueckenschlag literally means "bridge-building"). This is an ambitious operation that, if successful, would trap six or seven Soviet armies and deprive them of a third of their gains during the winter counteroffensive. The weather is so bad, however, that today the Luftwaffe asks for a postponement of offensive operations due to severe icing conditions.

European Air Operations: After several days of full-strength raids, the RAF takes a day off to recuperate.

Fukushu Maru, 11 March 1942
Fukushu Maru, sunk on 11 March 1942.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-126 (Kptlt. Erwin Rostin), on its first patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks independent 2609-ton US freighter Caribsea about a dozen miles east of Cape Lookout Lighthouse, North Carolina. Rostin had been chasing a tanker but settled on the Caribsea when it suddenly appeared. Because Caribsea sinks quickly, no distress call is sent and the men are forced to use two rafts that float free. Fortunately, they are found by a passing freighter after only ten hours. There are 21 dead and seven survivors.

U-701 (Kptlt. Horst Degen), on its second patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 507-ton Royal Navy trawler HMT Stella Capella about 12 miles southeast of Vattarnes Lighthouse, Iceland. The trawler is heading to Stornoway to repair its defective anti-submarine equipment. All 33 men on board perish.

U-94 (Oblt. Otto Ites), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 1630-ton Norwegian freighter Hvoslef about two miles east of Fenwick Island off Delaware Bay. There are six dead and three injured men who required hospitalization out of 14 survivors.

Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli (Cmdr Carlo Fecia di Cossato) sinks 3628-ton Panamian transport SS Cygnet about four miles east of Dixon's Light, San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Cossato uses his deck gun in addition to a torpedo, apparently to economize on torpedoes during a successful patrol far from his base. All 30 men aboard survive.

German E-boat S-70 torpedoes and sinks 951-ton British collier SS Horseferry off Sheringham. There are 10 deaths.

Survivors of HMS Naiad on 11 March 1942
"Survivors of HMS NAIAD onboard HMS JERVIS." 11 March 1942. © IWM (A 8389).
Battle of the Mediterranean: U-565 (Oblt. Johann Jebsen), on its fourth patrol out of La Spezia, torpedoes and sinks 5450-ton British light cruiser HMS Naiad north of Sidi Barrani, Egypt (south of Crete). There are 82 dead and 582 survivors.

Malta comes under the jurisdiction of Commander in Chief Middle East Forces. Naval and RAF garrisons are under command of Commander in Chief Mediterranean and Air Officer Commanding in Chief, respectively. Lieutenant General Sir William Dobbie, Governor of Malta, remains commander in chief, but his days are numbered. The Axis has been pounding the island relentlessly in recent weeks and Winston Churchill is casting about for a replacement for Dobbie. There are some highly placed individuals who believe that Dobbie is a bit too religious and fatalistic.

Italian police officers in Berlin on 11 March 1942
Italian police at a conference in Berlin (Oranienburg), 11 March 1942 (Federal Archive Bild 121-1080).
US/Canadian Relations: Representatives of both countries meet in Ottawa to discuss the creation of a Northwest Staging Route. This will be the air route between Edmonton, Alberta, and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for the purpose of ferrying aircraft to Alaska.

Anglo/Indian Relations: Following closely on President Roosevelt's cable suggesting political reform in India, Prime Minister Churchill issues a statement in which he agrees to negotiations with Indian leaders, including the Indian Congress Party, and appoints Sir Stafford Cripps as the negotiator. Cripps will leave on 22 March. Churchill's main goal is India's full participation in the war effort. For this, he embraces the "Draft Declaration" which contemplates self-government after the war. Sending Cripps is a calculated move by Churchill, who views him as a political rival and calculates that failure in India will damage Cripps.

Brazil: President Getúlio Vargas issues a decree reiterating his authority to declare war or impose a state of national emergency. Brazilians are worried about U-boat attacks in the Caribbean and are preparing to seize Axis nationals and their property.

American Homefront: In Omaha, Nebraska, 11-year-old Warren Buffett buys his first shares of stock. They are three shares of Cities Service preferred stock. Being underage, he must use his father's brokerage account. The purchase consumes all of the money Buffett has saved since age 6. "I went all in," Buffett reminisced in February 2019. "I had become a capitalist, and it felt good."

Li'l Abner comic strip on 11 March 1942
"Li'l Abner" comic strip by Al Capp from 11 March 1942.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

March 10, 1942:US Navy Attacks Japanese Landings at Lae

Tuesday 10 March 1942

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
"View from a VT-5 TBD-1, showing KIYOKAWA MARU (Japanese seaplane tender, 1937-1945) under attack. Note bomb splash astern and what may be a "hit" aft. Planes were from USS YORKTOWN (CV-5)." 10 March 1942. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 95444.
Battle of the Pacific: On the Huon Peninsula in Papua, New Guinea, Japanese landings continue on 10 March 1942. Having secured Lae and Salamaua, the Japanese take Finschhafen. Japanese aircraft based at Rabaul in the Solomon Islands support the landings and also attack Port Moresby. US Navy Task Forces 11 (Vice Admiral Wilson Brown Jr.) and 17 (Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher) attack the Japanese ships in the Huon Gulf. This is a technically impressive feat because the carriers are 201 km (120 miles) away and the Dauntlesses must fly over the 15,000 Owen Stanley Range to reach their target. The planes and later B-17 bombers flying from Garbutt Field at Townsville sink three Japanese transport vessels (Kongō Maru, Tenyō Maru, and Yokohama Maru) and damage several other ships. This US Navy raid has far-reaching consequences, as Japanese military strategists decide that they will need aircraft carrier support in order to take Port Moresby. This leads to the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
"Enlargement of picture of KIYOKAWA MARU (Japanese seaplane tender, 1937-1945), showing what appears to be a bomb hole aft. Note planes on deck-three Mitsubishi F1M2 ("Pete") and one E8N2 ("Dave"). Taken by a VT-5 TBD-1, from the USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) air group." 10 March 1942. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 95446.
Pleased with the bombing attack on Hawaii (Operation K) carried out by two Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boats on 4 March, the Japanese try again on 10 March 1942. This time, only one flying boat takes off from Wotje Atol, once again piloted by Pilot Lieutenant Hisao Hashizume, who led the first mission. The Americans have been closely monitoring Japanese radio broadcasts about the raid and are ready and waiting for another attempt. Brewster F2A Buffalo fighters of Squadron 221 (VMF-221) intercept Hashizume's flying boat southwest of Midway Atoll, killing him and his crew. The US Navy guards the French Frigate Shoals, the refueling site being used by the Japanese, for the remainder of the war.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
"View is taken from a VT-5 plane, a Douglas TBD-1 "Devastator" showing ships below maneuvering off Salamaua. Plane at upper right is TBD-1 (BuNo 0319) flown by Lieutenant Joe Taylor, USN Commanding Officer of VT-5. Radioman is ACRM (PA) H. S. Nobbs, USN. Note weathered markings and individual plane No. (1) on the fuselage." 10 March 1942. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 95442.
In the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur informs Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, Commanding General I Corps, that he will be leaving the Philippines shortly. Wainwright will take over command of all forces on Luzon. However, MacArthur makes clear that he intends to continue exercising control through orders to Colonel Lewis C. Beebe, who will be deputy chief of staff of USAFFE. MacArthur and his party, including Mrs. MacArthur, will depart from Corregidor Island to Mindanao aboard PT-41.

Japanese troops continue their occupation of the Solomon Islands, landing at Buka Island (north of Bougainville).

In Burma, the British 17th Indian Division and 7th Armoured Brigade complete a difficult withdrawal northwards to the Tharawaddy area.  Chinese troops begin arriving in the Sittang River region, covered by the 1st Burma Division.

The Japanese make Lieutenant-General Hitoshi Imamura the new governor of Java and Madura. His boss is Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi, Supreme Commander of the Southern Army.

Japanese submarine I-62 uses its deck gun to sink 235-ton British sailing ship Lakshmi Govinda in the Indian Ocean. Japanese collier Kosei Maru hits a mine and sinks in Lingayen Gulf, Philippines. There are 13 deaths on the Kosei Maru.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
"View taken from a VS-5 SBD shows KONGO MARU (Japanese armed merchant cruiser, 1933-1942) sinking off Lae. Note paint finish: Dark gray with light mast tops, reminiscent of U.S. Measure 1." 10 March 1942. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 95434.
Eastern Front: German Fifth Panzer Division captures part of Soviet I Guards Cavalry Corps in a pocket south of Vyazma. After this, a blizzard hits the area which stops all movement for almost a week. The unusually heavy snowfall (even for the area) hampers the Uckermann relief attempt toward the Kholm pocket and creates dangerous icing conditions on the Luftwaffe's planes that are keeping the pocket from collapsing.

European Air Operations: RAF Bomber Command launches a large raid on Essen. The raid is notable for the first use of Lancasters in a raid on a German target. All told, 126 bombers (56Wellingtons, 43 Hampdens, 13 Manchesters, 12 Stirlings, and two Lancasters) set off. However, as has often been the case recently, the results of the raid are poor due to weather conditions. Only 85 bomber crews report bombing Essen, and the authorities in Essen see only limited damage (two bombs hit railway lines near the target, the Krupps factory). There are five deaths and 12 injured. A Polish service worker perishes when a spent anti-aircraft shell explodes near him. There are subsidiary raids on Bochum, Duisburg, and Gelsenkirchen. Two bombers attack Boulogne, while another bomber attacks the Rotterdam port area.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
"U.S. Navy Douglas TBD-1 Devastator aircraft from torpedo squadron VT-5, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5), prepare to attack Japanese shipping with bombs in the Huon Gulf supporting the Japanese invasion of Lae-Salamaua, New Guinea, on 10 March 1942. Two Japanese ships, possibly the auxiliary vessel Noshiro Maru and minesweeper Hagoromo Maru, can be seen making a smoke screen below in anticipation of the air attack. The first plane on the left was piloted by Joe Taylor, the second by Leonard E. Ewoldt, and the third by Francis R. Sanborn." Scanned from the book: Cressman, Robert (2004), That Gallant Ship USS Yorktown (CV-5), Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, p. 75.
Battle of the Atlantic: U-161 (Kptlt. Albrecht Achilles), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and damages two ships in the harbor of Port Castries, St. Lucia. Achilles fires two torpedoes at 04:49. The first hits 7970-ton Canadian passenger ship Lady Nelson, while the second torpedo strikes 8141-ton British freighter Umtata. While both ships sink to the harbor bottom, the silver lining for the Allies is that the harbor is shallow and both ships are later raised. There are 18 deaths on board the Lady Nelson, including fifteen passengers, but all 92 people on board the Umtata survive.

U-588 (Kptlt. Victor Vogel), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks 6776-ton US tanker Gulftrade about three miles off of Barnegat Light (near Toms River, New Jersey). There are 18 dead and 16 survivors.

An unidentified U-boat or Italian submarine torpedoes and sinks 9957-ton Norwegian tanker Charles Racine in the mid-Atlantic northeast of the British Virgin Islands.

Battle of the Mediterranean: Supermarine Spitfires which only arrived on Malta on the 7th get their first kill, downing Bf 109 piloted by Heinz Rahlmeier of Luftwaffe unit 8/JG53. The victorious pilot is Flt Lt Heppell of RAF No. 249 Squadron. The Spitfires and Hurricanes disrupt attacks on Luqa airfield.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
Failed propagandist Jane Anderson.
Propaganda War: On 6 March 1942, Jane Anderson, a Georgia socialite (nicknamed "The Georgia Peach"), broadcast English-language propaganda from Berlin. She praised Adolf Hitler and denounced the usual targets: Jewish people, the Western press, and Winston Churchill. She described the fine dining available in Berlin. After hearing this, the Allies decide to translate the speech into German for the benefit of citizens of the Reich. They rebroadcast it today to the Reich in order to anger ordinary Germans subsisting on reduced rations with no frills. This works exactly as intended. As a result of this broadcast and its unexpected results, the German broadcasting service (Rundfunk) takes Anderson off the air.

Manhattan Project: The Office of Scientific Research and Development contracts with Johns Hopkins University to open the Applied Physics Laboratory.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
"Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" dive bombers en route to the target, at an altitude of 16,000 feet. Planes are from the USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) air group." 10 March 1942.Naval History and Heritage Command NH 95435. 
US/Anglo Relations: President Roosevelt follows up his suggestions for reorganizing the war effort with another telegram to Winston Churchill. In this one, FDR broaches the delicate topic of India, which he admits "all of you good people know far more about than I." Roosevelt suggests setting up a "temporary government, headed by a small representative group covering different castes" that would lead to a "more permanent government." He justifies this suggestion by referring to "the world changes of the past half-century."

US/Iran Relations: The United States extends Lend-Lease to Iran. Iran is becoming a major conduit for aid to the Soviet Union.

US Military: US Fifth Air Force transfers the 3rd Bombardment Group and 13th Bombardment Squadron from Brisbane to Charles Towers.

A P-40E Kittyhawk of the 20th Pursuit Squadron, 4th Air Depot Group, based at Laverton piloted by Captain Joseph Potter McLaughlin crashes into mountains near Aberfeldy in Victoria, Australia. The plane and pilot's remains are not found until 1948.

Chinese Military: Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek appoints US Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell as his Chief of Staff.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
British freighter Umtata, Sunk in Port Castries, St. Lucia on 10 March 1942 by U-161.
US Government: The US House of Representatives approves an increase in the national debt limit from $65 billion to $125 billion.

British Government: Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden makes a speech in the British House of Commons about Japanese atrocities in Hong Kong.

The government reports that it already has spent over nine billion pounds on the war, more than during the entire First World War.

American Homefront: Universal Pictures releases "Unseen Enemy," a wartime drama about German spies in San Francisco. "Unseen Enemy" is notable for being one of the first Hollywood films, if not the first, to put the title and credits after the film rather than before it. Only the Universal Logo appears before the action.

Raid on Lae-Salamaua area on 10 March 1942
Lady Nelson, sunk today by U-161 in Port Castries, St. Lucia.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

March 9, 1942: Japanese Conquest of Dutch East Indies

Monday 9 March 1942

Attack on the Tirpitz 9 March 1942
RAF warplanes spot the German battleship Tirpitz at sea, 9 March 1942. The Tirpitz appears to have just begun evasive maneuvers. Visible at the top is accompanying destroyer Friedrich Ihn.
Battle of the Pacific: The Japanese complete the conquest of the Netherlands East Indies on 9 March 1942 when the Dutch commander of Java surrenders along with Governor General Jonkheer A.W.L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer. Observing that some Australian units in the interior continue to hold out, Japanese Lieutenant General Imamura Hitoshi orders Dutch Lt. General Hein Ter Poorten to make another radio broadcast at 14:30 telling them to surrender, which they do. The occupation of the Netherlands East Indies has been a critical Japanese war aim because it is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter after the United States, Iran, and Romania. The Axis now possesses two of the world's top four oil-exporting regions. This begins undisputed Japanese control of the area that lasts until the Japanese surrender in 1945.

Some Dutch authorities manage to escape. The Lieutenant-Governor General of the Netherlands East Indies, Dr. van Mook, arrives in Adelaide. He promises that" "We are here to collect all the forces we can... There should be an end to destroying and retreating." However, Dutch strength in the Pacific effectively has ended for the time being.

The Japanese 35th Infantry Brigade under Major-General Kiyotake Kawaguchi completes the conquest of Borneo. There are still some Allied troops desperately holding out in isolated areas, but their position is hopeless.

Time magazine 9 March 1942
Time Magazine of 9 March 1942 has many war pictures from around the world. At lower left is a photo of the "Flying Tigers" in Burma.
Japanese forces land on the islands of Buka and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. Their main intent is to provide flank protection for the main Japanese overseas base at Rabaul, New Britain. The Japanese quickly begin building airfields and naval bases with which they can harass Allied naval and air traffic between the United States and Australia. The Japanese also are looking at further landings in the Solomon Islands to the south at places such as Guadalcanal. At the moment, the Allies have a very weak presence in the Solomon Islands which is made weaker today when the Japanese execute Australian coastwatcher P. Good on Buka Island. Good's execution results from an indiscreet Australian news broadcast of some of Good's information about Japanese shipping movements.

As Japanese landings proceed at Lae and Salamaua, Allied Hudson bombers of No. 32 Squadron attack the convoys in the Huon Gulf, damaging Yokohama Maru and killing three and wounding eight. Japanese ship Asanagi also is lightly damaged off Lae. Meanwhile, Japanese aircraft bomb targets on New Guinea.

Japanese forces complete the occupation of Rangoon, which the British abandoned before they arrived. Rangoon was the key Allied transit hub for Lend-Lease shipments to China, so the Allies must figure out another route to get the supplies across the Himalayas. The British fly the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to Magwe, Burma, where the British are trying to make a last stand in the country. These are the last British reinforcements to reach Burma.

Republic P-43A 9 March 1942
A Republic P-43A Lancer 41-6687 in flight near Esler Airfield, Louisiana, 9 March 1942 (USAF).
Eastern Front: The situation is growing critical at Kholm. The trapped German garrison, numbering almost 100,000 men, is barely surviving on each day's flight of supplies brought in by the Luftwaffe. The relief force under Generalmajor Horst von Uckermann remains stalled virtually within sight of the pocket, blocked by Soviet KV tanks. Soviet T-34 tanks are blasting the pocket's defenses, but so far they are holding. Hitler is losing confidence in Uckermann but has no alternatives at the moment. The Luftwaffe is using all of its transport resources from the entire front just to keep the pocket from collapsing.

European Air Operations: During the day, RAF Bomber Command sends six Bostons on a Circus raid to bomb the Mazingarbe fuel depot without loss.

RAF Bomber Command sends another large mission out tonight. With the target being Essen, 187 bombers (187 aircraft, 136 Wellingtons, 21 Stirlings, 15 Hampdens, ten Manchesters, and five Halifaxes) use their Gee direction-finding equipment in poor weather conditions with thick ground haze. The bombers damage 72 buildings and destroy only two. In secondary raids, four bombers attack Emmerich and Oberhausen, nine Wellingtons and Stirlings bomb Boulogne (only four hit the target), and individual bombers attack Schipol and Soesterburg airfields. An additional five Hampdens lay mines in the Frisian Islands.

Overall, the RAF loses two Wellingtons and a Halifax.

Attack on the Tirpitz 9 March 1942
Using standard naval tactics, German gunners aboard the Tirpitz fire into the sea on 9 March 1942 ahead of attacking RAF warplanes to raise a "curtain of water." The British score no hits during this raid and shoot down two attacking planes.
Battle of the Atlantic: The Royal Navy has been keeping a close eye on a sortie against the Arctic convoys by German battleship Tirpitz and its accompanying fleet ("Operation Sportpalast"). While Admiral Otto Ciliax aboard the Tirpitz already has turned the force back to its port at Fættenfjord, just north of Trondheim (via Vestfjord), the British are determined to catch it at sea. Twelve Fairey Albacore torpedo bombers of RAF No. 832 Squadron from HMS Victorious attack in the morning, but the Tirpitz successfully evades the torpedoes. The Germans lose only three men wounded and shoot down two of the Albacores (four British airmen killed). The Tirpitz then continues on uneventfully to Vestfjord.

While the Tirpitz does no damage to the Arctic convoys, the weather does. In rough seas near pack ice, 253-ton Soviet minesweeper Shera (formerly of the Royal Navy) capsizes in the Barents Sea.

Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli 9 March 1942
Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli in 1941.
Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli (Commander Fecia di Cossato), operating off the coast of Florida, torpedoes, shells, and sinks 5785-ton Uruguayan freighter SS Montevideo. There is a degree of irony in this sinking, as the Montevideo was an Italian freighter seized by Uruguayan authorities, renamed, and put into service.

U-94 (Oblt. Otto Ites), on its second patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks independent 5152-ton Brazilian passenger/freighter SS Cayru about 130 miles off New York. There are 53 deaths and 36 survivors. There seems to be some disagreement about whether it is U-94 that scores this kill, but it is operating in that general area off Montauk Point on 9 March 1942. In any event, a U-boat definitely sinks SS Cayru.

U-boat Captain Otto Ites of U-94 9 March 1942
U-boat Captain Otto Ites of U-94. He later became a dentist.
U-126 (Kptlt. Ernst Bauer), on its third patrol out of Lorient, torpedoes and sinks independent 8241-ton Panamanian tanker Hanseat about 10 miles northeast of Cape Maysi, Cuba. Two torpedoes hit at 13:17, one in the stem, the other in the stern. The Dutch crew manages to take to the boats before Bauer surfaces and starts shelling the sinking ship, which takes two hours to go under. All 38 men aboard survive.

Refueling a destroyer at sea, 9 March 1942
"Paying out the oil fuel pipe from the cruiser HMS TRINIDAD which is hauled on board by the destroyer HMS FURY. Note the huge waves pounding the side of the cruiser." © IWM (A 7923).
U-587 (KrvKpt. Ulrich Borcherdt), on its second patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 5719-ton Greek freighter Lily about 470 miles east of Halifax. The Lily technically is part of Convoy ON-68 but is a straggler. There are 29 survivors and 3 dead (who die of exposure after taking to the boats).

U-96 (Kptlt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock), on its eighth patrol out of St. Nazaire, torpedoes and sinks 4265-ton Norwegian freighter Tyr about 100 miles east of Halifax. The ship sinks within nine minutes. There are 13 dead and 18 survivors. Lehmann-Willenbrock on U-96 stops and gives the survivors directions to Sable Island.

Attack on the Tirpitz 9 March 1942
The view from the Tirpitz on 9 March 1942 as it approaches safety in the Norwegian fjords after attacks by HMS Victorious.
Battle of the Mediterranean: Radio Berlin today broadcasts that "the Island Fortress of Malta is under a hail of bombs by day and night." This is accurate, but that does not mean that resistance is weakening. Luftwaffe and Italian bombing continues on Luqa Airfield today, but at least the RAF claims three enemy planes destroyed and ten damaged. Anti-aircraft defenses claim another Axis plane destroyed with two more damaged. The Luftwaffe drops 19 "Hermann" 1000kg bombs, 67 500kg bombs, 58 250kg bombs, and 163 50kg bombs during the day. Continuing a tradition of both sides, the Germans write pointed inscriptions on their bombs, such as "Iron Greetings for Malta."

Italian submarine captains being honored, March 1942
Commander Fecia di Cossato of the Italian submarine Tazzoli, far left, being honored for his successes in the Atlantic in March 1942. The other three Italian commanders being honored are Olivieri (submarine Calvi), De Giacomo (Torelli), and Judge (Finzi).
Propaganda War: In the Philippines, General MacArthur continues a rather unusual propaganda offensive. Following up on his radio broadcast of the 8th that Japanese General Homma has committed suicide due to his utter failures as a commander, MacArthur broadcasts that General Yamashita Tomoyoki has replaced Homma. This is odd because Homma is alive and well and everybody with knowledge of the situation realizes it. However, MacArthur is hitting a raw nerve in the Japanese command because it is indisputable that Homma's offensive has bogged down and he has lost face. To get even the Japanese now use their Tokyo Rose radio operation to promise that MacArthur will be caught within the month. Tensions rise on both sides.

While all of this propaganda activity may seem peripheral and quaint, it has real-world consequences. President Roosevelt today again orders MacArthur to leave the Philippines aboard submarine USS Permit on 14 March, but this is overtaken by events almost immediately. The Japanese are monitoring press reports in the United States and, hearing increasing chatter that MacArthur should be put in charge in Australia, they increase their patrols in the Subic Bay area to prevent MacArthur's escape. Because of this, MacArthur's departure date is moved up and he is ordered to leave by high-speed torpedo boat rather than wait for the more secure submarine. The PT boats will take him to Mindanao as soon as possible, where he and his party will board three USAAF B-17 Flying Fortresses at Del Monte Field for the flight to Australia.

U-boat Captain Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock of U-96, who sank a freighter on. 9 March 1942
Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock of U-96.
Manhattan Project: Vannevar Bush, director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), sends President Roosevelt a report discussing Robert Oppenheimer's work on the nuclear cross-section of uranium-235. By these calculations, Oppenheimer estimates that 2.5 to 5 kilograms of Uranium-235 could have a destructive power of 2000 tons of TNT. However, the report states that Oppenheimer is contemplating using an even more powerful fuel: plutonium. After this, Bush begins working on a budget for fiscal 1943 (which begins in September 1942).

Angle/US Relations: Continuing their ongoing correspondence, President Roosevelt sends a cable to Winston Churchill ("Former Naval Person, London"). He informs the PM that he is sending Admiral Harold Stark as his new naval observer to replace Vice-Admiral Ghormley, who is going to the Pacific. Roosevelt complains that he is "concerned by the complexity of the present operational command setup to which is added equal complexity in the political setup." This opens up a topic that almost certainly catches Churchill by surprise.

FDR proposes to replace the "obsolescent" command arrangements and give the United States sole authority in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Basically, he proposes a complete US takeover of all decisionmaking in the Pacific, which obviously is a consequence of British losses in the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Roosevelt outlines the concept of "offensives in northwesterly direction" on "Japan proper from Chinese or Aleutian or Siberian bases." This is the first hint of an Allied plan to go on the offensive in the Pacific, which at this time seems (and is) a bit premature and hopeful.

British/Greek Relations: The British and Greeks in Exile sign an agreement regarding the organization and employment of Greek troops.

Jewish residents being marched to camps in Poland, 9 March 1942
German soldiers marching Jewish residents of Mielec off to the camps, 9 March 1942 (Federal Archive B 162 Bild-00427).
US Military: Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley, a special naval observer in the United Kingdom for President Roosevelt, is given command of South Pacific (COMSOPAC) on the initiative of Admiral Chester Nimitz. Ghormley was last at sea in 1938. This rather odd choice appears due to personal relationships within the uppermost reaches of the US naval command, including his friendship with Roosevelt. Admiral King tells him to "personally oversee" operations in the Solomon Islands.

A major reorganization ordered by President Roosevelt in an Executive Order of 28 February 1942 goes into effect today. A Zone of Interior (ZI) is established under General George C. Marshall as Chief of Staff. There are three autonomous commands: Army Ground Forces under Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, Army Air Forces under Lieutenant General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, and Services of Supply (later designated as Army Service Forces) under Major General Brehon B. Somervell. The Army Air Forces (AAF) goes out of existence.

In addition to these moves, the division of responsibilities in the naval high command is clarified. Admiral King is made Chief of Naval Operations in place of Admiral Stark, who is given command of US naval forces in European waters.

A lady engineer in the Royal Navy, 9 March 1942
"2nd Engineer Miss Victoria Drummond, MBE, MN, prepares for action against the enemy." 9 March 1942. © IWM (A 7842A).
Major General Alexander Patch lands his troops of Task Force 6814 (51st Infantry Brigade and 132d and 182d Infantry) at Noumea on New Caledonia Island. The local French authorities take issue with some of Patch's initial decisions, but the matter is quickly resolved.

US Navy Submarine USS Swordfish arrives in Fremantle, Western Australia, carrying U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands Francis B. Sayre and his party. General MacArthur remains in the Philippines but has firm orders to depart soon.

US Army Engineers arrive in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to work on the ALCAN highway. They will build the road to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Australian Military: The Australian high command had split the 7th Imperial Division, arriving from the Middle East, into two portions: part to go to Java, the rest to go to Adelaide. The men sent to Java today become prisoners of the Japanese, while the others arrive today in Adelaide.

Italian police officers at a conference in Berlin, 9 March 1942
Italian police at a conference in Berlin on 9 March 1942, surrounded by theater maps and under the all-seeing gaze of Adolf Hitler (Federal Archive Bild 121-1079).
British Government: The Foreign Office announces a new Anglo-American Caribbean Commission for strengthening social and economic cooperation in the region.

Hungary: Miklós Kállay becomes Prime Minister at the request of Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy. Horthy and Kállay are very lukewarm allies of the Reich, and Kállay refuses to participate in such activities as rounding up Jewish residents. He also permits a surprising amount of political expression, including non-communist left-wing opposition. However, Kállay does support the war effort by sending troops to serve with the Wehrmacht. Since the Germans already are running short of manpower, Hitler does not interfere - for now.

Jewish residents being marched to camps in Poland, 9 March 1942
A young woman glances at the official Reich Propaganda Ministry photographer as she is marched off to the camps in Mielec, Poland, 9 March 1942 (Federal Archive B 162 Bild-00439).
Iran: With the Allies in tight control of Iran, Ali Soheili becomes Prime Minister. The monarch remains Mohammad Reza Shah, in office since 16 September 1941. However, Reza Shah is just 22 and engaging in artistic pursuits such as writing French poetry. Iran is quickly becoming a key supply route for Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union.

Holocaust: Authorities in Slovakia order all Jewish residents to wear Yellow badges or "Stars of David."

Jewish residents being marched to camps in Poland, 9 March 1942
German troops in Mielec, Poland, oversee the deportation of Jewish residents to camps, 9 March 1942 (Federal Archive B 162 Bild-00436).
American Homefront: The San Francisco News reports on the problems associated with the war effort. In an article entitled "War Hits the Farm Lands," reporter John G. Brucato bemoans the fact that "the long arm of Uncle Sam has reached into rural areas and plucked thousands of young men from the farms and adjoining communities for military service." There is such a need for farm workers that the idea of "Victory Vacations" is floated, where city dwellers will work on farms during their "vacations." This would be "patriotic but would also be a matter of good health, through exercise and fresh air, and would repay those making the gesture definite cash returns."

Future History: Dagoberto Campaneris Blanco is born in Pueblo Nuevo, Cuba. He develops into a speedy baseball shortstop, entering the Major Leagues in 1964 with the Kansas City Athletics. He ties a major league on his first day in the major leagues by hitting two home runs. His real offensive specialty, though, is stolen bases, at which he leads the American League six times. After the Athletics transfer to Oakland, Bert Campaneris (as he becomes known) is a key player on the champion teams of 1972-1974. He still holds the A's franchise record for games played at 1795, hits, and at-bats. "Campy" retires in 1983 with the New York Yankees and currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Danny Kaye on the cover of Playbill, 9 March 1942
Danny Kaye on the cover of Playbill for the week of 9 March 1942. Also featured in the magazine are Eve Arden and Vivian Vance.