Thursday, June 16, 2016

June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France

Sunday 2 June 1940

2 June 1940 Hudson Dunkirk
A Coastal Command Hudson with a blazing Dunkirk oil storage tank behind it, early June 1940.
Western Front: French forces on 2 June 1940 man the perimeter at Dunkirk. The Germans push the Allied defenses back, but they do not break. The pocket is now only two miles long and a little deeper. Almost all British troops - aside from stragglers - are now gone, with the vast majority of troops remaining in the pocket being French soldiers. The day ends with the French holding a perimeter on the edges of town.

Adolf Hitler makes his first visit to French soil during the war. He stages a photo op at the Canadian National Vimy Ridge Memorial. This is partly to refute Allied propaganda that the Wehrmacht has destroyed it. He orders the SS to guard the monument.

General Georges continues to make plans for an offensive against the German line along the Somme. Much of the Allied line is held by British troops, with the mass of the French Army remaining behind the Maginot Line in the south.

Chief of the General Staff Dill sends Sir Alan Brooke back to France to organize a new BEF south of the Somme.

Mussolini postpones the Italian attack on French positions in the Alps to 10 June.

Dunkirk: There are 26,256 troops evacuated today (9,561 Allied troops embark from Dunkirk harbor and 6,695 from the beaches). Due to the decision to evacuate only during the night, British naval losses go down significantly; the Royal Navy has only two destroyers damaged. The final British unit leaves today and French soldiers are being evacuated as well. The French are disorganized - partly due to decisions taken by the British without their knowledge - and this hampers their evacuation. Some French troops do not see a realistic possibility of evacuating to England and desert, hoping to get back to their homes by slipping through the lines.

Royal Navy hospital ship HMS Worthing is damaged by the Luftwaffe attack, along with numerous smaller vessels.

Baron Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, a Luftwaffe General and also a cousin of the famous "Red Baron," is disgusted at the outcome fo the battle. He writes in his diary: "A victory over England has been thrown away."

European Air Operations: The Germans continue attacks in the Rhône Valley region between Lyons and Marseilles, causing many civilian casualties.

The RAF is still primarily engaged in supporting the French defenders at Dunkirk, sending 24 aircraft to attack the advancing Germans during the day and 16 at night.

The British send 24 aircraft to hit targets in Germany during the night.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-101 (Kapitänleutnant Fritz Frauenheim) torpedoes and sinks 3,577-ton British freighter Polycarp about 41 miles south of Land's End at 03:00. All 43 crew survive.

US passenger liner President Roosevelt, with 720 Americans aboard, and liner Manhattan, with 1,905 passengers, depart for America from Galway and Genoa, respectively. As a general matter, it is believed that fast liners are safer by sprinting across the ocean on their own that by participating in a slow-moving convoy.

Convoy OA 160 departs from Southend, Convoy OB 160 departs from Liverpool, Convoy OG 32F departs from Gibraltar, and Convoy HX 47 departs from Halifax.

2 June 1940 Queen Elizabeth Princess Margaret
Princess Elizabeth - the future Elizabeth II - and sister Margaret with their corgi named Jane, 2 June 1940 (Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa / Getty).
Norway: German 2nd Mountain Division continues pushing north towards Narvik to relieve General Dietl's forces trapped near the border. They depart from Sorfold (to the east of Bodo) and remain over 100 miles south of Narvik as the crow flies, over rough terrain. The roads are not continuous, and the Wehrmacht troops must either take ferries or go overland in mountainous terrain riven with lakes and fjords. This exposes them to both aerial and naval attacks.

The Luftwaffe attacks Harstad, losing nine bombers. RAF Pilot Officer Louis R. Jacobsen of No. 263 Squadron, flying out of Bardufoss, has a big day near Narvik. He shoots down four Heinkel He 111 and two Junkers Ju 88 medium bombers for a total of 6 bombers in one day.

Luftwaffe transports drop another 45 men of the 1st Fallschirmjaeger Regiment to reinforce General Dietl. The Norwegian, Polish and French troops pursue the Germans toward Sweden, while the 26,000 British troops remain in port to prepare for the evacuation.

Royal Navy aircraft carriers HMS Glorious and Ark Royal arrive off Narvik to provide air cover and to take off the RAF fighters at Bardufoss.

British Government: War Secretary Anthony Eden gives a frank radio speech update on Operation Dynamo. He states that 80% of the BEF has been evacuated intact, minus battle losses and the few still remaining to be picked up:
The British Expeditionary Force still exists, not as a handful of fugitives, but as a body of seasoned veterans. We have had great losses in equipment. But our men have gained immeasurably in experience of warfare and in self-confidence. The vital weapon of any army is its spirit. Ours has been tried and tempered in the furnace. It has not been found wanting. It is this refusal to accept defeat, that is the guarantee of final victory.
US Government: Weighing in on the issue of German influence in South America, Admiral Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations. President Roosevelt takes up one of his options and decides that the right course is to send an 8-inch cruiser to South America (along with the cruiser he already has sent), along with occasional destroyer visits from the Atlantic Squadron.

Italian Government: Italo Balbo confers with Foreign Minister Count Ciano before returning to his position in command of Italian forces in Libya. Both men are quite leery about new Italian military adventures.

Spain: Sir Samuel, the new British Ambassador to Spain, arrives in Madrid. There are crowds of anti-British demonstrators demanding the return of Gibraltar to Spain.

Greece: Constantine II, the heir to the Greek throne, is born in Psychiko, Athens, Greece.

British Homefront: The government evacuates 50,000 children from urban areas in southeastern England.

American Homefront: "The Spirit" makes his debut in the Sunday comics section.

2 June 1940 Hitler Vimy Ridge
Hitler at Vimy Ridge. This picture was widely circulated in German publications to show Hitler at the front and to prove that the memorial had not been destroyed.
June 1940

June 1, 1940: Devastation at Dunkirk
June 2, 1940: Hitler Visits France
June 3, 1940: Operation Paula
June 4, 1940: We Shall Fight
June 5, 1940: Fall Rot
June 6, 1940: Weygand Line Crumbling
June 7, 1940: British Evacuating Narvik
June 8, 1940: Operation Juno
June 9, 1940: Norway Capitulates
June 10, 1940: Mussolini Throws Down
June 11, 1940: Paris an Open City
June 12, 1940: Rommel at St. Valery
June 13, 1940: France Goes Alone
June 14, 1940: Paris Falls
June 15, 1940: Soviets Scoop Up Lithuania
June 16, 1940: Enter Pétain
June 17, 1940: The Lancastria Sinks
June 18, 1940: A Day of Leaders
June 19, 1940: U-boats Run Wild
June 20, 1940: Pétain Wilts
June 21, 1940: Hitler's Happiest Day
June 22, 1940: France Is Done
June 23, 1940: Hitler in Paris
June 24, 1940: Six Million Jews
June 25, 1940: German Celebrations
June 26, 1940: USSR Being Belligerent
June 27, 1940: Malta in Peril
June 28, 1940: Channel Islands Bombed
June 29, 1940: Gandhi Insists on Independence
June 30, 1940: Channel Islands Occupied


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