Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29, 1940: Trouble in Indochina

Friday 29 November 1940

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com London underground shelter Aldwych
"Shelterers read the paper and prepare for sleep in a dimly-lit tunnel of the London Underground network, probably at Aldwych in November 1940. More shelterers can be seen further down the tunnel, past a pile of ladders visible on the left." © IWM (D 1680). (Photo: official government photographer Bill Brandt).
Italian/Greek Campaign: The Greek forces continue grinding forward on 29 November 1940. Italian forces in Pogradec to evacuate the town. The Greek 13th Greek Division captures a key defensive point outside the town, Point 1292, forcing the Italians to withdraw. Some advance Greek troops enter Pogradec. Greek 2nd Infantry Division captures Sucha Pass.

The Italians, realizing the danger to the southern ports, are now transferring stocks of supplies from Valona and Durazzo to San Giovanni di Medua (Shëngjin).

The RAF, supporting the Greeks, raids Tepelene.

Greek submarine Papanicolis attacks 6168-ton Italian freighter Chisone off Durazzo but causes no damage.

Italian submarine Delfino attacks two Greek destroyers twelve miles east of Kalojeri, but also cause no damage.

General Bernard Freyberg of New Zealand disposes the accumulated British and New Zealand troops on Crete to protect naval bases and strong points.

European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe does little during the day, with only scattered raids on the south coast by fighter-bombers. It focuses on London during the night. It is a heavy raid involving 300+ bombers. Among the areas damaged to one extent or another are:
  • Cloisters/crypt of Houses of Parliament;
  • St. James' Church in Piccadilly;
  • The Old Bailey and Tower of London;
  • St. Martin's Ludgate.
The Italian CAI sends 9 bombers to attack the Ipswich/Lowestoft/Yarmouth region.

RAF Bomber Command raids the ports of Bremen, Hamburg, Cologne, Boulogne, and Le Havre.

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com London underground shelter Liverpool Station
Liverpool Street Underground Station Shelter: Masses of people lie huddled together on either side of an arched tunnel in the station. © IWM (D 1573). November 1940. (Photo: official government photographer Bill Brandt).
Battle of the Atlantic: The Germans conduct another destroyer sweep off the coast of southern England. These actions tend to be short and sharp, and this one is no exception. Kriegsmarine destroyers Beitzen, Galster, and Lody depart their base in Brest and come upon some ships about 20 miles (30 km) south of the Lizard, which they promptly attack. These include:
  • 134-ton British tug Aid (sunk, 5 survivors, 5 deaths);
  • 290-ton Barge B.C.H. 10 (sunk, 5 survivors, 3 deaths);
  • Dutch/British pilot boat Stroomloodsvartuig 4;
  • 126-ton French tug Abeille 14 (damaged).
The Royal Navy has its ships on patrol nearby, and they quickly come to intervene. German destroyer Lody puts two torpedoes into destroyer HMS Javelin, first on the scene. These destroy her bow and stern but do not cause the Javelin to sink. There are 46 deaths on the British ship. Javelin is later towed to Devonport and is under repair until December 1941. Lord Mountbatten is aboard the Javelin and unharmed. This action is a fine example of his fighting spirit.

Royal Navy destroyers HMS Jupiter, Kashmir, Jersey and Jackal arrive shortly after the Javelin is hit. They save the Javelin, but the Kriegsmarine ships make good their escape, though with varying degrees of minor damage.

Elsewhere, 95-ton British drifter Young Fisherman runs aground at Oban, Scotland and is written off.

Royal Navy 214-ton minesweeping trawler HMT Calverton hits a mine and sinks at the mouth of the Humber. There are two deaths. This area has been heavily mined and this is the second ship claimed there recently (the other being HMT Manx Prince on the 28th).

In Convoy HX 88, 4872-ton British freighter Parthenia collides with another ship (the Robert F. Hand) in rough seas and sin about 13 km southwest of Sandra Lightship.

The German coastal guns at Cap Gris Nez (Hellfire Corner) score another minor success when they damage 759-ton British freighter Fermain at Dover.

Convoy FS 346 departs from Southend, Convoy HX 92 departs from Halifax, Convoy BHX 92 (from Bermuda) is canceled for lack of ships and the freighters directed to Halifax to join the next HX convoy.

Royal Navy corvette HMS Orchis (K 76, Lt. Arthur D. White) is commissioned.

USS Grenadier is launched.

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com London Underground shelter Liverpool Station
Liverpool Street Underground Station Shelter: A group of men occupies their time by playing a game of draughts on the station floor. © IWM (D 1581). November 1940. (Photo: official government photographer Bill Brandt).
Battle of the Mediterranean: The weather is stormy in the Mediterranean as winter starts to bite. The large Royal Navy ships, including aircraft carrier Ark Royal and battleship Ramillies, from Force H engaged in Operation Collar return to port at Gibraltar. Convoy ME 4 from Malta and its accompanying escort arrive at Alexandria. This concludes Operation Collar.

New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Leander attacks Banda Alulu, near Cape Guardafui, Italian Somaliland. It fires 98 6-inch rounds and damages a factory and radio station. The Italian Aero Aeronautica attacks the Leander without success.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Olympus departs from Malta after completing repairs incurred in part during an air raid on 6 July. Otherwise, the day is fairly quiet and routine at Malta.

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz
Rising young starlet Lucille Ball and touring Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz elope on 29 November 1940 (this photo is from much later).
Thai/French Conflict: In a little-remembered campaign, Thailand takes the opportunity of French weakness to infiltrate disputed territory west of the Mekong River. In addition, they issue an order for French nationals to evacuate the area immediately. Thailand has ancient grievances against France - well, as ancient as 1893, at least - and its leaders feel that Thailand is entitled to large areas of Laos and western Cambodia. The key areas are the Cambodian provinces of Battambang and Siem Reap, Lao Sayaboury, and west-bank Champassak. While the Vichy French have been defeated in Europe, they remain a potent force in the region. This is the beginning of an opportunistic border war. The Japanese, who themselves now occupy part of Indochina, look on bemused.

US/German/Anglo Relations: German freighters Idarwald (6031 tons) and Rhein (5181 tons), which made an abortive attempt to return to Occupied Europe a month earlier, make another try. They depart from Tampico, Mexico. US destroyers USS Simpson and Broome are on Neutrality Patrol outside the harbor, knowing that the German ships may try again. The US destroyers, as is usual in such cases, follow the two German freighters but do not stop them. However, they broadcast the German ships' position in the clear so that the British are sure to learn about the situation. The two German freighters once again return to port, but their captains remain determined to run the blockade.

Adolf Hitler, incidentally, mentions this series of incidents involving the United States Navy in his declaration of war on 11 December 1941. There is no question that the US ships are aiding the British war effort even if technically acting within the scope of international law.

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Black Eye Peas
The Black Eye Peas are appearing at the Lexington Casino. Trenton Times, 29 November 1940.
US/Mexican Relations: US Vice President-elect Henry A. Wallace meets with President Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico City. He is there to attend the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Manuel Avila Camacho on 1 December. Wallace faces protesters at the US Embassy because the country is still divided over the controversial election that elected Camacho over General Juan Almazan. Wallace's visit is a show of support for the incoming President.

German Military: Having reviewed and discounted Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov's proposed agreements of 25 November, the German leadership continues its planning for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. A draft completed today enlarges upon earlier attempts. It sets forth three more-or-less equal axes of attack, one through the Baltic States to Leningrad, the second on the high road to Moscow, and the third in the south aiming toward Kyiv. The front will be 1800 miles long - earlier drafts foresaw a much smaller front only in the north. This is not the plan's final form, but it is the first draft that closely resembles the framework of the actual invasion in June 1941.

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Jeep Ban BRC
BRC-1007, the seventh Bantam BRC built, is delivered on November 29, 1940, along with 21 others. This Jeep was used until 1944 and has 15,941 miles showing. The BRC is displayed at Pittsburgh's Heinz Museum by way of the Smithsonian.
US Military: The US Army Air Corps is so certain about the quality of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver bomber design that it orders mass production before the first test flight. However, the USAAC requires modifications, including self-sealing and enlarged gas tanks. While the military is extremely enthusiastic about the plane, all of the changes will take an extended amount of time to work out. The Helldiver is intended the replace the Douglas SBD Dauntless but, despite this early order, the Helldiver will not enter combat until 11 November 1943. The entire production process becomes a matter of great controversy and investigations that many blame for the eventual collapse of the Curtiss Corporation.

Heavy cruiser USS Louisville makes port in Rio Grande du Sol, Brazil as part of its "Show the Flag" mission.

India: Subhas Chandra Bose, in prison for protesting against the British rule in India, begins a hunger strike. It will last until 5 December.

China: In Hubei, the Japanese Han River operation has been blunted by the Chinese 5th War Area. The Japanese 11th Army withdraws, and the Chinese recover some ground unopposed.

29 November 1940 worldwartwo.filminspector.com Bela Lugosi postcard
A postcard sent by Bela Lugosi to his sister, 29 November 1940.
French Homefront: Charles de Gaulle broadcasts to France from London. He is quite uncomplimentary to the Vichy regime, opening his speech by saying:
It has now been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that though the sword of France has been shattered by unworthy leaders, the nation refuses to submit to disaster.
He later adds:
Yes, the flame of French resistance, briefly smothered under the ashes of treason, is once again alight and burning. And we, the Free French, have the glorious duty and supreme dignity of being the soul of the nation's resistance.
De Gaulle also goes out of his way to emphasize that he is not just talking through his hat, but commands serious forces:
Well, at this very moment we have 35,000 men under arms, twenty warships in commission, sixty merchantmen at sea, a thousand airmen, a number of technicians engaged on armament work, territories active on behalf of our cause in Africa, French India, and the Pacific, important centres in all parts of the world, growing financial resources, newspapers, wireless stations, and, above all, the certain knowledge that at every minute of the day we are present in the hearts and minds of all our fellow-countrymen in France.
This is but one in a series of speeches by Charles de Gaulle. Recently, his appeals in-person to captured Vichy soldiers in Gabon have not produced many converts. As a national leader, de Gaulle remains a creation of the British government. However, he is a brilliant orator and is fine-tuning that skill with each speech.

American Homefront: Universal Pictures releases classic W.C. Fields comedy film "The Bank Dick" (aka "The Bank Detective" in England). Directed by Edward F. Cline and written by "Mahatma Kane Jeeves" (aka W.C. Fields himself), the film is full of edgy puns for the era and slapstick. It is considered by many to be WC Field's best work (alongside "My Little Chickadee" with Mae West). Shemp Howard of The Three Stooges makes a cameo appearance as a bartender. Also starring Una Merkel and Cora Witherspoon.

Also released today is the film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Men." It nominally stars Kay Francis, but everyone familiar with the film knows the real draw is the famous Elsie the Cow playing Buttercup.

November 1940

November 1, 1940: Hitler Irate
November 2, 1940: U-31 Sunk - Again
November 3, 1940: Kretschmer's Master Class
November 4, 1940: Spain Absorbs Tangier
November 5, 1940: Jervis Bay Meets Admiral Scheer
November 6, 1940: San Demetrio Incident
November 7, 1940: Galloping Gertie
November 8, 1940: Italian Shakeup in Greece
November 9, 1940: Dutch Fascists March
November 10, 1940: Fala and Doc Strange
November 11, 1940: Taranto Raid
November 12, 1940: Molotov Takes Berlin
November 13, 1940: Molotov Foils Hitler
November 14, 1940: Moonlight Sonata
November 15, 1940: Warsaw Ghetto Sealed
November 16, 1940: France Keeps Battleships
November 17, 1940: Malta Hurricane Disaster
November 18, 1940: Hitler Berates Ciano
November 19, 1940: Birmingham Devastated
November 20, 1940: Hungary Joins Axis
November 21, 1940: Dies White Paper
November 22, 1940: Italians Take Korçë
November 23, 1940: U-Boat Bonanza!
November 24, 1940: Slovakia Joins In
November 25, 1940: Molotov's Demands
November 26, 1940: Bananas Be Gone
November 27, 1940: Cape Spartivento Battle
November 28, 1940: Wick Perishes
November 29, 1940: Trouble in Indochina
November 30, 1940: Lucy and Desi Marry


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